An unwelcome visitor is bugging vacationers on several Caribbean islands this winter.

It goes by the name of the aedes aegypti mosquito, and the bite from an infected female causes a dengue-like sickness.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) updated its travel advisory on Jan. 7, first issued in December, due to an increase in the incidence of the mosquito-borne disease on several islands.

The CDC confirmed that the following islands have cases of chikungunya virus: St. Martin, 96 cases, up from 10 on Dec. 18; St. Maarten, one; Martinique, 13; Guadeloupe, three; and St. Barts, seven cases.

Authorities in French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten initiated preventative measures to eliminate further risk. These included fogging near the Dutch/French border, yard-to-yard inspections to remove potential breeding spots and standing water, daily public announcements and the placement of cautionary banners and posters in public locations to alert residents and visitors.

Tourism sector partners were asked to be vigilant, especially at ports of entry.

"We are asking all taxi/bus drivers, restaurants, car rental agencies, stores and attractions to have mosquito repellent readily available in their establishments for their guests, particularly at dawn and dusk," said Ted Richardson, minister of tourism and transportation on St. Maarten.

The disease originated in Africa and was first recorded in 1952.

Since then, it has infected millions of people in Africa, Asia and islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific.

This is the first time that it has been reported in the Western Hemisphere, according to the CDC.

There is no vaccine or medicine to prevent chikungunya virus.

Chikungunya is characterized by an abrupt onset of fever, frequently accompanied by joint pain.

Symptoms, which appear four to seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito, also include headache, nausea and a rash.

They last for a few days to a few weeks, but some people may feel tired for several weeks, according to the CDC.

People at increased risk include newborns, older adults and those with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease.

Most patients recover fully; severe cases requiring hospitalization are rare.

The mosquitoes bite during daylight hours with a peak of activity in the early morning and late afternoon.

Travelers can protect themselves by covering exposed skin, using insect repellent that contains DEET and sleeping in air-conditioned rooms.


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