Crippling Disease Spreading on Reunion Island

Posted on February 6, 2006

A disease being called crippling disease is spreading on Reunion Island, a volcanic French island. Reuters reports that 2,000 of the island's 80,000 residents (2.5%) have the disease.

Reuters also reports that 25 deaths are listed as possibly caused by the outbreak. The disease is known as chikungunya. Symptoms include joint pain and high fever.

The "chikungunya" fever is named after a Swahili word meaning "that which bends up," referring to the stooped posture of those afflicted.

First recognised in epidemic form in East Africa in 1952, it also leaves immune systems weak, providing opportunities for other diseases to set in.

The disease is spread by mosquitoes and troops are being drafted to fight the disease. There is also a serious economic side effect of the outbreak -- thousands of tours to the island have been canceled.

The CDC has a page dedicated to the Chikungunya virus. It says symptoms begin about 3-7 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

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