Virus: Fact Sheet and Advice for Travellers
Published in the Sunday Times
of 5 March 2006.
Most South Africans are not at risk of catching the
chikungunya virus that has infected tens of thousands of Indian Ocean Island inhabitants.
Department spokesman Solly Mabotha said: "The type of mosquito that is
carrying this virus is scarce in South Africa. The only threat is to South Africans
who are exposed outside the country."
He said the department had not
been notified of any cases of chikungunya among South Africans. "We are warning
travellers to the islands to take precautionary measures", he said.
also appealed to doctors to be on the alert for infections and to notify the department
of any cases in the country.
World Health Organisation estimates that as many as 157 000 people have been
infected in Reunion since March last year, although doctors have only officially
reported 2 406 cases.
The disease is seldom fatal, except for those with
weak immunity such as newborn babies or elderly people.