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Why is it that people are only now getting chikungunya?


Dear Doc,

If it is true that we had the mosquitoes that transmit the chikungunya virus around for many years now, why is it now that people are getting chikungunya fever?{{more}}


Dear Brenda,

It is correct that we have had the aedes aegypti mosquitoes around for a long time and indeed they have been biting people, as it is the way they get blood.

The reason why persons were not getting the chikungunya fever is because the mosquitoes did not have the chikungunya virus before. The mosquitoes can only transmit what they have in their system. The scenarios are of two possibilities. The first is that someone who was infected with the chikungunya virus entering the state, and then being bitten by mosquitoes, which then bit other persons, thus spreading the virus.

The second is the possibility of mosquitoes on ships and planes entering the country with cargo (containers, cars, tyres et cetera).

In both cases, the virus has to be introduced into the mosquitoes, which then bite people and thus spread the chikungunya virus.


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