Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Travelers To Africa, Asia Returning With New Virus

ATLANTA - Travelers to parts of Africa and Asia are returning with a new mosquito-borne virus and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned on Thursday it could become entrenched in new areas.

Some people returning to Europe, the United States, Canada, Martinique and French Guyana reported cases of Chikungunya fever (CHIKV) in 2006 and large outbreaks have been reported in Indian Ocean islands and in India, according to the report.

The virus first emerged in Tanzania in 1953 and, though no deaths have been recorded, it can cause a debilitating illness whose symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, muscle and joint pain and rash. No specific drug therapy or vaccine exists to treat it.

"Some risk exists that CHIKV might be introduced into previously nonendemic areas by travelers with viremia, leading to local transmission of the virus," the report said.

It singled out tropical or subtropical areas of the U.S. including the Gulf Coast, Hawaii and the Virgin Islands as particularly at risk.

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