Researchers Warn Chikungunya Virus Will Invade Americas

Posted on April 7, 2014

French and Brazilian researchers are warning that the Chikungunya virus will invade the Americas. The researchers say the risk of a major epidemic of the virus carried by mosquitoes is boosted by the upcoming FIFA World Cup, which will be held in brazil next month. Chikungunya can cause severe joint pain, which can sometimes lead to permanent disability. People stricken with the disease are sometimes noted for their "bent down" or contorted appearance. This is also what the name Chikungunya means in the Tanzanian Makonda language.

Ricardo Lourenco-de-Oliveira of the Instituto Oswaldo Cruz in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and his collaborators compared the ability of 35 populations of the two Aedes mosquito species to transmit three different genotypes of chikungunya. These populations ranged all over the Americas from Buenos Aires to Tyson, Missouri. The researchers say that even in temperate Missouri, A. albopictus was found to have a high dissemination and transmission ability for two of the three chikungunya genotypes.

Lourenco-de-Oliveira says in a statement, "The danger of chikungunya virus spreading all over the tropical, subtropical, and even temperate regions of the Americas is a risk greater than ever. Our results showed that the [Americas are] very receptive and vulnerable to CHIKV [chikungunya virus] transmission, and extremely exposed to the occurrence of an immediate chikungunya epidemic, since most regions are highly infested with both vectors."

The research paper can be found here in the Journal of Virology.