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Study: Invasion of Americas by Mosquito-Borne Virus Likely

Authors say it’s just a question of when

While media attention has been focused recently on coronavirus cases in the Arabian peninsula and on the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, experts note that another threat lies in the spread of Chikungunya fever, an illness that is transmitted by mosquitoes and can cause fever, joint pain, muscle pain, headaches, and rashes. While the illness usually does not cause death, the symptoms can be severe and disabling, with no treatment available.

According to an article published in Clinical Microbiology and Infection, the potential for worldwide spread of Chikungunya virus is much higher than the risk of dissemination of Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus or Ebola virus, and the number of cases expected from the introduction of Chikungunya virus into the Americas, Europe, or both is considerably higher.

Attention and funding should be directed to building up surveillance systems, to organizing international coordination efforts, and to developing countermeasures, according to the article.

“Concerning worldwide globalization of Chikungunya, the question is not whether it can happen, but when it will happen,” said lead author Dr. Remi Charrel.

Sources: Medical Xpress; August 18, 2014; and CMI; July 2014.

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