When our family was thinking of travelling to the Caribbean, my husband refused to do so because of the tropical virus, chikungunya. At the time, my entire family harassed him about being so overly cautious – but looking back now, it may not have been such a bad mandate for our family. We once met a family from Canada working for the military, with one of them being a scientist working to prevent this virus. To my surprise, they agreed with my husband!
This all pushed me to come to the realization that it’s important to be aware of the various tropical viruses for anyone travelling to the Caribbean. That’s why today, I’ll discuss the rise of chikungunya as well as the atypical coxsackie virus.
Chikungunya “had never infected anyone in the Western Hemisphere until December 20, 2013,” when it appeared in the Caribbean, says Stephen K. Tyring, M.D., Ph.D. Since then, thanks to international travel and the spread of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries chikungunya, “This disease has spread extremely rapidly throughout the Caribbean and southern United States,” where it has already infected approximately 1 million people in total.
Atypical coxsackie virus
In the last two years, dermatologists in the U.S. have been noticing an increase with hand, foot and mouth (HFM) disease caused by the Coxsackievirus A6 (CVA6), which seems to make adults sicker than children.
These viruses are no joke, and I should have always taken my husband seriously – especially since there are so few effective treatment options for these viruses. Recently, one of my patients mentioned she was getting married in the Caribbean and she had no idea about chikungunya – and that’s how awareness starts. Now that she – and you – know, I hope you’ll take more precautions next time you book a holiday to soak up the sun! Stay safe.