Epidemic of crippling disease spreads in Reunion

26th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

SAINT-DENIS-DE-LA REUNION, Jan 26, 2006 (AFP) - An epidemic of a crippling and incurable mosquito-borne disease has continued to spread throughout the Indian Ocean island of Réunion, with thousands of new cases reported, a health official said Thursday. Only in the last week more than 5,600 new cases were reported, taking the total number of people infected by "chikungunya" to 22,167 on the French-ruled island since the beginning of the epidemic last March, said Gilles Brucker, director of a governm

SAINT-DENIS-DE-LA REUNION, Jan 26, 2006 (AFP) - An epidemic of a crippling and incurable mosquito-borne disease has continued to spread throughout the Indian Ocean island of Réunion, with thousands of new cases reported, a health official said Thursday.
  
Only in the last week more than 5,600 new cases were reported, taking the total number of people infected by "chikungunya" to 22,167 on the French-ruled island since the beginning of the epidemic last March, said Gilles Brucker, director of a government health-monitoring institute.
  
"We should expect that the number of cases will pass 30,000," Brucker said.
  
Chikungunya is Swahili for "that which bends up" and refers to the stooped posture of those afflicted by the non-fatal disease for which there is no known vaccine or cure.
  
The disease is "very painful, very crippling for certain persons" and could be "potentially serious for weak and vulnerable patients," Brucker said.
  
In several death certificates issued since the beginning of the month, the disease was "mentioned as a possible cause of the death," he added.
  
Local authorities have decided to postpone for one week students' return to high schools and colleges, initially planned for next Monday after the main summer holiday, in order to decontaminate schools.
  
Mayors throughout the island should decide later on Thursday if the return of primary school students should also be adjourned.
  
Authorities on the volcanic island east of Madagascar, a French overseas department with a population of 760,000 and a popular holiday destination, have earmarked EUR 600,000 euros to fight the outbreak, including special mosquito-eradication brigades.
  
Top health ministry official Didier Houssain, accompanying Brucker, called for measures to be stepped up against mosquitoes, particularly by eliminating some 250 unauthorised garbage dumps on the island and installing modern incinerators.
  
The number of "commandos" tasked to intervene in the field will be increased from 11 to 20, and a special free telephone number for tourists introduced.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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