The mosquito-borne disease, chikungunya has claimed the lives of at least 52 inhabitants of the French Reunion Island according to official reports of French National Health Agency (INVS).
The incurable crippling disease, called chikungunya, has affected more than 110,000 people since the epidemic broke out in the Indian Ocean Island in March 2005. As many as 22,000 have contracted the disease over the past week, according to Philippe Quenel, an epidemiologist at the INVS.
'Fifty-two certificates of death citing chikungunya have been submitted,' Quenel added.
The illness is characterized by high fever and severe rashes. While it is usually non-fatal in itself and most people eventually recover, it can provide opportunities for other diseases to set in.
The French government has sent several hundred soldiers to the island to assist in the eradication of the mosquitoes that spread the illness. The disease has dealt a severe blow to the island's tourism as well.