September 19, 2014 10:57 pm

Dominican Republic says mosquito-borne virus sickens nearly 500,000

This 2006 photo made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a female Aedes aegypti mosquito acquiring a blood meal from a human host at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The Aedes aegypti mosquito is one of two types of mosquitoes that can carry the chikungunya virus.

Centers for Disease Control and James Gathany/AP Photo

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – Health authorities in the Dominican Republic say a mosquito-borne virus has now sickened nearly 500,000 people in the country, which is among the hardest hit by the outbreak in the Caribbean.

Health Ministry official Carmen Adames says those infected with the chikungunya virus includes 109 newborns. Adames says the virus was transmitted because their mothers were infected when they gave birth.

The official who is co-ordinating the government’s response to the outbreak told reporters Friday that none of the babies died.

Chikungunya has spread quickly in the region since the first locally transmitted case in the Western Hemisphere was documented in late 2013.

The Pan American Health Organization says there have been nearly 1 million cases in the hemisphere. Symptoms include high fever, severe headaches and joint pain.

© 2014 The Canadian Press

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