El Salvador is now the first country in Central America with a chikungunya outbreak after several cases appeared in early June 2014 in the municipality of Axutuxtepeque in the Department of San Salvador. Dengue cases have also increased in the country in recent months, IFRC reports.
On June 18, 2014, the Ministry of Health, through the Directorate-General for Civil Protection, established a stratified Yellow Alert due to the growing number of cases of chikungunya and dengue fever in the country.
By July, 1 300 suspected chikungunya cases had been reported, distributed over six departments and 20 municipalities.
Up to epidemiological week 25 of this year, 15 225 suspected cases of dengue had been recorded, of which 5 299 were confirmed positive, 93 of them severe.
These figures exceed the behaviour seen in previous years, according to IFRC. 80 per cent of cases have been found in the population under 20.
Chikungunya fever is an emergent disease transmitted by mosquitoes and caused by an alpha virus – the chikungunya virus – which is transmitted mainly by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes (the same species involved in dengue fever transmission).
Since 2004, the chikungunya virus has expanded its geographical distribution throughout the world, causing sustained epidemics in Asia and Africa where some areas are considered endemic for this disease. The virus has produced outbreaks in many new territories.
On December 6, 2013, PAHO/WHO received confirmation regarding the first cases of indigenous transmission of chikungunya in the American continent on the island of Saint Martin (French territory. Faced with this situation, the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) issued an epidemiological alert on December 9, 2013, recommending that countries establish measures to detect, confirm and manage cases and implement a communications strategy.
Subsequently, five other territories in the Caribbean had reported indigenous transmission by late January 2014: Guadeloupe, British Virgin Islands, Martinique, Saint Barts and Saint Martin (Dutch territory).
Outbreaks have also been detected in recent months in Dominican Republic, Haiti and Venezuela.
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