That’s according to the latest update from the European Center for Disease Prevention & Control, which has been monitoring the virus.
The report comes as scientists in the U.S. have taken the first steps to developing a vaccine for the virus that has infected more than a half million people in the Western Hemisphere this year. About 600 Americans have brought the virus to 43 states.
The study was small. Only 25 people were given the experimental vaccine. But the findings are promising and demonstrate that the vaccine is safe and that it triggers a strong response from the immune system, scientists reported in the Lancet journal.
Meanwhile, there are reportedly more than 580 000 probable and confirmed cases in the Caribbean region alone. That number has increased from last week by 12 percent.
The Dominican Republic saw the highest increase, with more then 60,000 new cases reported.
An outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean region was reported from the French part of the island of Saint Martin on December 6, 2013. Since then, autochthonous transmission of chikungunya has been reported from several islands in the Caribbean and recently for the first time in South America (French Guiana).
The virus has since spread to North, Central and South America and several EU countries are also reporting imported cases from the affected areas.
Chikungunya causes symptoms such as fever, joint pain, muscle pain, headache and nose and gum bleeding.
The disease can be prevented by avoiding mosquito bites and:
- Wearing clothing that acts as a barrier to exposure to bites
- Using mechanisms to keep vectors out of houses such as screens on doors, windows, and eaves
- Reducing breeding sites near houses or in communities by:
- Covering water storage containers,
- Eliminating puddles and drainage of places where water accumulates,
- Eliminating unusable containers where water pools, and
- Controlling garbage in yards and gardens.