KINGSTON, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- Chikungunya, a viral disease without vaccine or cure, had been detected in the Caribbean region, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) reported Tuesday.
Ten confirmed and another four probable cases -- the first locally acquired cases detected in the region -- were reported last week on the Caribbean island of Saint Martin, according to the Trinidad-based agency.
There was currently no vaccine or cure for Chikungunya, which has infected millions of people in Africa and Asia since it was first detected in 1952, the agency warned.
Chikungunya, spread mainly via Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, causes high fever and severe joint pain, which persists for weeks or months, or in some cases, years. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rashes.
According to the agency, the symptoms appear between four and seven days after the bite of an infected mosquito, and most clinical signs and symptoms last three to 10 days, but joint pain may persist longer.
CARPHA Executive Director C. James Hospedales worried the disease might spread throughout the region.
"Given that the type of mosquito that transmits Chikungunya is widely distributed in the Caribbean and is also known to transmit dengue, the region is at risk for spread of the virus," he said.
He indicated the best way to protect oneself from this disease was to avoid mosquito bites and to prevent mosquitoes breeding in and around the home.
CARPHA said it had been coordinating with the Pan American Health Organization, World Health Organization, and other stakeholders to ensure a rapid and coordinated public health response.
Chikungunya often occurs in Africa, Asia, India and Pacific islands, and in recent decades mosquito vectors of the disease have spread to Europe and the Americas.
In 2007, Chikungunya transmission was reported for the first time in Europe.