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Vieux 03/02/2006, 20h44
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Date d'inscription: décembre 2003
Localisation: Mauritius
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Exclamation Chikungunya

Crippling mosquito-borne disease spreads to Mauritius

Weekend • February 4, 2006

At least two people have been diagnosed with a incurable, crippling mosquito-borne disease on Mauritius as the viral infection spread to a fourth Indian Ocean island, officials said.

After health authorities on Madagascar, the Seychelles and the French overseas territory of Reunion reported outbreaks and boosted anti-mosquito campaigns, Mauritius, along with the Comoros, followed suit.

"A nation-wide campaign to eradicate mosquitoes has been launched on the island," the government said in a statement detailing its efforts to halt the spread of "chikungunya."

"After the recent rains on the island, the ministries of environment, regional administration and health have begun cleaning gutters and canals to stop the breeding of mosquitoes that spread chikungunya," it said.

The statement did not say if or how many people had been affected but a health ministry official, said there were two confirmed and 15 suspected cases since the beginning of the year.

"We have 15 suspected cases and two confirmed," ministry spokeswoman Amita Pathak told AFP. "We are on alert. The air and seaport are under high surveillance by health inspectors."

In the Comoros archipelago, where 5,200 people were infected with chikungunya last year but no new cases have yet been reported, health officials said they were stepping up surveillance to guard against an outbreak.

"We are organising visits to different health centres to check whether there are new cases," said Ahamda Aly Goda, the director of health on the main island of Grand Comore.

The worst-hit island is Reunion, where doctors said Thursday that 45,000 new cases of chikungunya had been reported since mid-December.

The French government last week drafted 400 extra troops to help fight the mosquitoes that have been spreading the disease across Reunion.

On the Seychelles, nearly 2,000 people have been infected with the disease since November, officials said Thursday, adding that an urgent mosquito eradication drive was underway as the number of victims was rapidly rising.

Also Thursday, Madagascar said two more people, on top of dozens who have flocked to a hospital in the country's second largest town of Toamasina over the past week, had shown symptoms of the disease.

Chikungunya is Swahili for "that which bends up" and refers to the stooped posture of those afflicted by the crippling and extremely painful disease for which there is no known vaccine or cure.

It is characterized by high fever and severe rashes, and while non-fatal in itself and most people eventually recover, it can provide opportunities for other diseases to set in.
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