Sunday, July 6, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Yasmeen Abutaleb
July 04, 2014

Cases of chikungunya, a viral disease spread by mosquitoes in tropical climates, have been reported in Boston and surrounding communities among people returning from the Caribbean, state public health officials said Thursday.

The Boston Public Health Commission sent an alert to physicians Tuesday warning them to look out for symptoms of the illness, which causes severe fever and joint pain. Four cases have been reported just this week in Boston residents, and several cases have been confirmed elsewhere in New England during the past month.

The alert said patients who recently traveled to the Caribbean, including Haiti and the Dominican Republic, could be infected.

State health officials did not name the other communities that have seen cases, citing patient confidentiality.

Chikungunya is endemic to parts of Africa, Asia, southern Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but began appearing in the Caribbean in December. The federal Centers for Disease Control began identifying cases in US travelers earlier this year, with 129 cases reported by July 1 across 27 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

“We really wanted the health care providers to be aware that they should be advising some precautions for people,” said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the commission’s Infectious Disease Bureau. “We encourage people to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, to use repellents, and if weather conditions are OK, to wear long sleeves and long pants.”

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