A painful year of mosquito-borne disease in El Salvador
Each year in El Salvador, the rainy season brings the problem of mosquito-borne illnesses. This year, in addition to dengue fever, mosquitoes have brought the Chikungunya virus for the first time. This diseases which originated in Africa arrived for the first time in the Americas in 2013.
El Salvador's health ministry is reporting that the number of cases of Chikungunya has finally stabilized after increasing steadily since May of this year. The country has reported some 59,000 suspected cases of the mosquito-borne disease since the virus first appeared in El Salvador in 2014. Symptoms of the disease include a high fever and severe joint pain which can become chronic.
The 59,000 cases exceeds this year's total cases of dengue fever which currently stand at 46,830 suspected cases. Both diseases are transmitted by the same breeds of mosquitoes, the aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus,
There is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya. Prevention is accomplished by avoiding mosquito bites -- wear long pants and sleeves and use insect repellent. Authorities in El Salvador are combating dengue and chikungunya by fumigating and encouraging Salvadorans to prevent standing water where the mosquitoes can breed.