The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recently said that a case of chikungunya reported in August was actually a false positive.
“The initial diagnostic results done at the local level were not confirmed by the national reference laboratory in Madrid," Herve Zeller, head of the Vector Borne Disease Program at the ECDE, told BioPrepWatch. "The latter [the national reference laboratory] did not detect any marker of chikungunya infection in specimens from the patients. This illustrates the importance of confirmation of any preliminary results by an expert laboratory and having that level of laboratory capabilities.”
Chikungunya is a mosquito-born virus endemic to the sub-tropic and tropical regions in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, India and Europe. The virus is most often spread to people by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.
The most common symptoms of the virus include fever and joint pain. Although the virus is not often fatal, the symptoms have the potential to cause disabling joint pain that may last for several months.
There is no specific antiviral treatment for the virus, but vaccines are being developed, although they are in the very preliminary stages, Zeller said.
The threat that Chikungunya will spread through parts of the European Union remains high.
“The risk of chikungunya spreading in the EU is high due to importation through infected travellers, presence of competent vectors in many countries (particularly around the Mediterranean coast) and population susceptibility," Zeller said. "ECDC has established updated maps of the distribution of the (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes) in Europe. This mosquito species is invasive, and spread to new areas through the movement of people and goods.”