186,000 cases of chikungunya in Réunion

Monday, March 13, 2006 With 186,000 cases of Chikungunya, a viral fever, on the island of Réunion, nearly one quarter of the population of that French overseas département has officially been affected since Mar. 2005.

The epidemic has gotten markedly worse in the past few months, with the worst point being 45,000 new cases in the week from Jan. 30 to Feb. 5. The Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin has stated on Wednesday (Mar. 1) that "Nine out of ten patients were struck since the beginning of the year (...). No one could have anticipated the progression of it."

The virus is also present in the Indian Ocean in Seychelles, in Mauritious and especially in Mayotte, where the line of 2000 cases would have been crossed, according to Xavier Bertrand, minister of French Health. That represents a doubling in 10 days.

According to Philippe Renault, medical epidemiologist of the CIRE (Regional Epidemiological Intervention Center of the Rhône-Alpes)[1], the propagation of the epidemic will show the first signs of stabilization, at a very high level. He urged against drawing hasty conclusions, however. "An infectious disease can reach a plateau, then start again. It is necessary to wait until the decrease is clear on all the indicators."