Island disease hits 50,000 people
BBC ^ | 2/2/06 | n/a

Posted on 02/02/2006 12:36:37 PM PST by kiriath_jearim

Island disease hits 50,000 people

A crippling mosquito-borne disease is spreading at an accelerating rate on the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion, health officials say.

They say the number of cases of the viral illness, known as chikungunya, had risen to 50,000, an increase of 15,000 in the past week alone.

The disease is not fatal, but those affected suffer high fever and severe pain. There is no cure or vaccine.

Hundreds of troops have been deployed on the island to eradicate mosquitoes.

Officials said the troops would be spraying the whole island against mosquitoes in the coming days.

The latest outbreak was first noticed there in February 2005 - but has spread at an accelerating rate since December.

Meanwhile, neighbouring territories are mobilising to contain the disease.

On the Seychelles - where 2,000 cases have been reported in the past four weeks - the army has been mobilised to exterminate mosquitoes, Reuters news agency reports.

The authorities in Madagascar also fear the disease may have reached their island, AFP news agency says.

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