Estimating the cost of illness and burden of disease associated with the 2014–2015 chikungunya outbreak in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), an alphavirus that causes fever and severe polyarthralgia, swept through the Americas in 2014 with almost 2 million suspected or confirmed cases reported by April 2016. In this study, we estimate the direct medical costs, cost of lost wages due to absenteeism, and years lived with disability (YLD) associated with the 2014–2015 CHIKV outbreak in the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI). For this analysis, we used surveillance data from the USVI Department of Health, medical cost data from three public hospitals in USVI, and data from two studies of laboratory-positive cases up to 12 months post illness. On average, employed case-patients missed 9 days of work in the 12 months following their disease onset, which resulted in an estimated cost of $15.5 million. Estimated direct healthcare costs were $2.9 million for the first 2 months and $0.6 million for 3–12 months following the outbreak. The total estimated cost associated with the outbreak ranged from $14.8 to $33.4 million (approximately 1% of gross domestic product), depending on the proportion of the population infected with symptomatic disease, degree of underreporting, and proportion of cases who were employed. The estimated YLDs associated with long-term sequelae from the CHIKV outbreak in the USVI ranged from 599–1,322. These findings highlight the significant economic burden of the recent CHIKV outbreak in the USVI and will aid policy-makers in making informed decisions about prevention and control measures for inevitable, future CHIKV outbreaks.