Sat, Nov 25, 2006 - Page 2 News List

First Chikungunya fever case detected in Taiwan

By Angelica Oung  /  STAFF REPORTER

The country has reported its first ever case of Chikungunya fever, a Center for Disease Control (CDC) official said yesterday.

A 13-year-old Taiwanese student was detected with a high fever at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Nov. 20 upon his return from Singapore where he studies.

At the time, he said he was suffering from fever and fatigue and after examining a blood sample from the boy, the CDC announced that he had contracted Chikungunya fever.

"This disease is very similar to Dengue fever, but less likely to be fatal" said Chou Jih-haw (周志浩), the CDC deputy director-general.

Chikungunya fever patients suffer substantial joint pain in addition to Dengue fever-like symptoms such as fever, headaches and muscular aches, Chou said.

"When the patient entered Taiwan, heat-registering cameras at the airport indicated that he had a fever" said Chou, "We were able to conduct a blood test on the spot."

If the virus is still in its incubating phase, it is impossible to detect carriers at the airport, said Chou.

Like Dengue-fever sufferers who are stopped at the airport, the Chikungunya sufferer was allowed to enter Taiwan with no restrictions on movement.

However, the sufferer and his family will be medically monitored and the environs of his home sprayed for mosquitos to prevent the potential spread of the disease.

"So far, none of his family have come down with the disease," said Chou, "We think the risk of the disease spreading and taking root in Taiwan is small."

However, Chou has asked that doctors be on the lookout for apparent Dengue cases that could be Chikungunya Fever.

Tseng Shu-hui (曾淑惠), deputy director of the CDC's fifth division, said 94 Dengue fever suffers are known to have entered Taiwan this year.

Of the 94, two thirds were stopped at the airport after being identified by heat-registering camera technology and the rest were tracked down following alerts from medical professionals.

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