Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Chikungunya Virus in Venezuela

The U.S. Embassy informs U.S. citizens living and traveling in Venezuela of a public health concern regarding the chikungunya virus.  Chikungunya virus is a mosquito transmitted virus recently identified in Venezuela and spreading.  Symptoms typically include fever and joint pain of the hands and feet that begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.  Other symptoms may include muscle pain, headache, fever, joint swelling, and rash.  There is no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya virus infection or any antiviral medications to treat it at this time.  While deaths are rare, people at increased risk for severe disease include newborns, adults over 65 years, and those with chronic health conditions.  The presentation of chikungunya is similar to dengue.  Citizens are encouraged to seek medical attention if they are showing symptoms, and especially if the fever is over 102 F (above 39 C).  At this time, prevention measures are focused on reducing mosquito exposure by the use of mosquito repellents, covering exposed skin, permethrin-treated clothing, mosquito control measures like emptying water from outdoor containers, and supporting local mosquito control measures.  Anyone sick with chikungunya should avoid mosquito bites to help prevent further spreading of the virus.  Please visit the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website on Chikungunya virus for additional information.

To obtain CDC travel notices, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) from within the United States, or 1-404-639-3534 from overseas, or visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Venezuela enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Information For Venezuela.  For additional information, refer to the Traveler’s Checklist on the State Department’s website.

Emergencies involving U.S. citizens can be reported to the U.S. Embassy by contacting the American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit, located at Calle F con Calle Suapure, 212-975-8365, acsvenezuela@state.gov.