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Warning over Italian chikungunya outbreak

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Travellers to the province of Ravenna in north-east Italy have been warned to take protective measures against mosquito bites after an outbreak of a virus in the region.

Travellers to the province of Ravenna in north-east Italy have been warned to take protective measures against mosquito bites after an outbreak of a virus in the region.

There have been 150 cases and one death caused by the Chikungunya virus, which is carried by the Asian Tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus.

The outbreak has occurred in two small villages, Castiglione di Cervia and Castiglione di Ravenna, near Cervia.

The Health Protection Agency has advised travellers to affected areas to take insect bite precautions, particularly during daylight hours when the mosquitoes are most active.

Cases have presented with a high fever (38C or higher), joint pains and tiredness. The disease was thought to have been introduced by a man who visited Kerala, India and became symptomatic on 23 June.

The first Italian case was reported on 4 July and outbreak peaked between 17 and 19 August, claiming the life of an 83 year-old man with underlying conditions.

Most patients with the virus recover fully over a period of a few weeks, although 5-10% of patients will experience chronic joint pain, stiffness and swelling that can persist. There is no vaccine against the infection.

A large outbreak of the virus was reported in India last year and involved more than a million cases.

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