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Travelers to Caribbean cautioned on mosquito-borne chikungunya

TAIPEI -- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has cautioned travelers to the Caribbean to take precautions against chikungunya, a viral disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes that has no proven cure.

The CDC said Monday that there has been a surge in infections of the disease — which is most prevalent in Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent — in Caribbean nations, many of which have diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Among other countries, Haiti has seen infections of chikungunya grow to around 6,000 cases over the first five months of the year while the Dominican Republic hit 40,000 over the same period, a stark increase of 82 percent and 380 percent, respectively, over the same period last year, according to CDC data.

Chikungunya cases were also reported in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis, the agency said.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chikungunya can cause fever and severe joint pain, along with other symptoms including muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.

The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue fever and is easily misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common. Treatment focuses on relieving the symptoms of the disease, according to the WHO.

While Taiwan has seen four confirmed cases of chikungunya as of June 2, all imported from Indonesia and the Philippines, the CDC urged nationals visiting the Caribbean to be on a high level of alert and pay attention to personal hygiene.

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