Chikungunya outbreak on Zanzibar

MAY 16, 2018

Chikungunya outbreak on Zanzibar

An outbreak of chikungunya infection has been reported on Zanzibar on 4th May 2018, with around 50 cases per day seen at the main hospital on the island.  Most cases appear to be originating in the island's capital, Stone Town.

Chikungunya is a viral infection, spread by day-biting, Aedes mosquitoes, the same ones which can spread dengue and zika viruses.  These mosquitos are particularly adapted to the urban, human habitat.  For more information on chikungunya and these other viruses, please visit our information page.  

There is no specific treatment for chikungunya, apart from supportive care.  Awareness and bite avoidance are the mainstays of prevention, using effective insect repellents such as Mosiguard Natural® or DEET, and/or staying in the breezier, coastal or rural parts of the island, rather than in Stone Town.  

Other mosquito-borne disease risks on Zanzibar
Zanzibar is considered to be a sufficiently low enough risk for malaria by the German, Swiss, Austrian and Italian public health authorities NOT to recommend the use of prophylactic anti-malarials since 2005, based on the available epidemiological evidence.  (The Scottish Malaria Advisory Group does still recommend taking them, however.)  

An outbreak of dengue virus was reported in 2014 in six districts of Tanzania including Zanzibar, but this outbreak has since peaked and fallen.  Precautions should nevertheless be taken.  

There has never been a human case of Yellow Fever documented in any part of Tanzania, and a YF certificate is not required on entry for visitors flying directly to the country or transiting via Nairobi airport for less than 12 hours, according to International Health Regulations.

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