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Amid Caribbean Outbreak, Chikungunya Virus Reported in Cuba

by Himabindu Venkatakrishnan on June 19, 2014 at 7:26 PM
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 Amid Caribbean Outbreak, Chikungunya Virus Reported in Cuba

Six cases of mosquito-borne chikungunya virus on Wednesday confirmed by Cuban health authorities, the latest in a spate of Caribbean countries reporting the fever-causing disease in their backyard.

The health ministry said that most of the cases were linked to individuals who had traveled recently, likely to Haiti or the Dominican Republic.

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In its statement, in state-run newspaper Granma, the ministry added that the patients were "progressing well."

Chikungunya produces symptoms similar to dengue, including high fever, joint pain and skin rash.

The virus is carried by mosquitoes -- most commonly the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, which are also responsible for dengue.
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Since December when two cases were confirmed on the Caribbean island of St. Martin, chikungunya has cropped up across the Caribbean.

As of early March there had been more than 8,000 suspected cases in the region, suggests the World Health Organization.

Meanwhile health authorities in El Salvador Saturday said that the disease had appeared in the Central-American country.

Cuba's ministry of public health gave notice it would "strengthen surveillance and control measures of travelers arriving from countries at risk of the disease, mainly in the Caribbean."

It added that almost all of those who were infected on the island were linked to "illegal trade."

In Cuba, the only Communist country in the Americas, individuals traveling abroad commonly import clothing, footwear and household appliances which they sell at home, an which is considered an illegal activity.

There is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya, which has infected millions of people in Africa and Asia since the disease was first recorded in 1952.

Source: AFP
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