BRASïLIAF (AFP) – Brazil’s authorities on Tuesday reported the first domestically contracted cases of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus, prompting the government to announce it was stepping up attempts to control the disease.
The joint disease, which causes high fever and painful arthritis, is endemic to Africa and south Asia but has been moving north as well as west.
Brazil’s cases emerged in Oiapoque municipality in the northern region of Amapa, bordering French Guiana, where cases have also been reported.
The Brazilian health ministry said the two sufferers appeared not to have travelled abroad recently, suggesting they must have contracted chikungunya in Brazil.
The country reported 37 cases between January and this month, although on each occasion the patient had contracted the disease abroad. A health ministry spokesman said the government would “step up control measures” to combat an illness which bears some resemblance to dengue fever and for which there is no vaccine.
Europe reported its first locally transmitted case of the mosquito-borne illness in 2007, in Italy and the first home-grown case reported in the United States emerged in July.