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Chikungunya may cause severe brain infection

PTI
Published : Dec 1, 2015, 12:58 am IST
Updated : Dec 1, 2015, 12:58 am IST

The mosquito-borne virus chikungunya may lead to severe brain infection and even death in infants and people over 65, a new study has warned.

Representational image
 Representational image

The mosquito-borne virus chikungunya may lead to severe brain infection and even death in infants and people over 65, a new study has warned.

The study, that reviewed a chikungunya outbreak on Reunion Island off the coast of Madagascar in 2005-2006, showed that the rate of brain infection, or encephalitis, from the chikungunya virus is higher than the rate seen in the US due to West Nile virus and similar infections between 1999 and 2007.

According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, outbreaks of chikungunya have occurred in numerous areas, including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean islands, and as of September 2015 more than 7,000 cases have been reported in Mexico, the researchers said. The most common symptoms of the infection are fever and joint pain. Most people recover within a week. For some people, the joint pain can continue for months and even years.

“Since there is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya and no medicine to treat it, people who are travelling to these areas should be aware of this infection and take steps to avoid mosquito bites, such as wearing repellent and long-sleeves and pants if possible,” said study author Patrick Gera-rdin, of Central University Hospital, in Saint Pierre, Reunion Island.

Location: South Africa, Gauteng, Johannesburg