Chikungunya Outbreak in Italy Earns CDC Travel Alert
Chikungunya virus lacks protective vaccine
Italy's chikungunya outbreak has expanded to four regions, promoting the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) to issue a Travel Health Watch - Level 1.
The total number of suspected or confirmed chikungunya cases in Italy has climbed to 298, as of October 4, 2017
In response to this continued outbreak, Italy's health institute announced that all blood donations would be suspended in the south of Rome until further notice. Blood donations from other areas in Italy may also be quarantined.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported locally transmitted cases of chikungunya in four areas of Italy:
- Anzio (about 30 miles south of Rome),
- Latina (about 15 miles east of Anzio),
- Guardavalle in Calabria Region.
The chikungunya virus is transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected female mosquitoes. It has been identified in 60 countries.
Chikungunya virus symptoms include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, and pain in the eyes, joints, and muscles. Chikungunya virus also shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be easily misdiagnosed.
There is not a FDA approved vaccine to protect people from the chikungunya virus.
The WHO said the likelihood of local transmission by Aedes albopictus mosquitoes is moderate, as the warmer weather in Italy is ending.
The current virus is similar to 2016 chikungunya viruses from Pakistan and India, according to the WHO.
However, the environmental conditions in Italy over the next several weeks will become less suitable for the mosquitoes, and may reduce the spread of the virus.
Beginning in 2014, chikungunya virus disease cases were reported among U.S. travelers returning from affected areas in the Americas and local transmission was identified in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As of October 10, 2017, a total of 54 chikungunya virus disease cases with illness onset have been reported to ArboNET from 20 U.S. states. All reported cases occurred in travelers returning from affected areas, such as Brazil.
No locally-transmitted cases of chikungunya have been reported from U.S. states.