Kingston: Scientists say a viral disease first detected in Africa that is spread to people by infected mosquitoes is being locally transmitted in the Americas for the first time.
Government epidemiologists in St Martin said today they've confirmed about a dozen cases of locally acquired chikungunya virus in the tiny French Caribbean dependency. The World Health Organization says there are more suspected cases.
The illness usually does not lead to fatalities. But there is no vaccine for it, and it can cause a debilitating sickness with intense muscle and joint pain, fever, rash, fatigue and vomiting.
St Martin Vice President Guillaume Arnell says "it started here so we have to contain it here."
St Martin shares a tiny island with Dutch St Maarten. Health officials on both sides of the island are responding to the outbreak.