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Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2007 Mar;76(3):405-7.

Drought-associated chikungunya emergence along coastal East Africa.

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Department of Defense Global Emerging Infections Surveillance & Response System (DoD-GEIS), Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-7500, USA.


Epidemics of chikungunya fever, an Aedes spp.-borne viral disease, affected hundreds of thousands of people in western Indian Ocean islands and India during 2005-2006. The initial outbreaks occurred in coastal Kenya (Lamu, then Mombasa) in 2004. We investigated eco-climatic conditions associated with chikungunya fever emergence along coastal Kenya using epidemiologic investigations and satellite data. Unusually dry, warm conditions preceded the outbreaks, including the driest since 1998 for some of the coastal regions. Infrequent replenishment of domestic water stores and elevated temperatures may have facilitated Chikungunya virus transmission. These results suggest that drought-affected populations may be at heightened risk for chikungunya fever, and underscore the need for safe water storage during drought relief operations.

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