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Imported case of Chikungunya Fever notified

    The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) today (March 29) urged members of the public to be on guard against mosquito-borne diseases when travelling overseas following notification of an imported case of Chikungunya Fever, a vector-borne disease found in Africa, Asia and Indian Ocean Islands.

     The patient, a 66-year-old man, visited the African country of Mauritius from March 16 to 22. He developed fever, chills, rigor, and muscle pain on March 22 and sought medical treatment from Prince of Wales Hospital upon returning to Hong Kong. He is now in a stable condition. Arrangements have been made for him to stay at Princess Margaret Hospital for observation.

     CHP Consultant, Dr Thomas Tsang, said, "Laboratory test results available today showed that he was infected by the Chikungunya virus.

     "Initial investigations showed that the patient did not apply any insect repellent during his travel. His family member and relatives, who also travelled with him, do not have any symptoms and have been put under medical surveillance.

     "The disease is characterised by fever, headache, and joint pain (arthralgia and arthritis) of the wrist, knee, ankle, and small joints. Some patients may develop a rash affecting the trunk and limbs. The illness is usually self-limiting (will go away without treatment) and lasts for three to 10 days, although the joint pain may last for weeks to months. The incubation period is one to 12 days.

     "Epidemics have occurred in Africa, Asia and Indian Ocean Islands. The Chikungunya virus is transmitted by infected Aedes mosquitoes to humans.

     The Department of Health is contacting travel agencies and the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong to educate them about the virus.

     The CHP is sending information to alert doctors in Hong Kong about the disease.

     There is no vaccine for Chikungunya Fever. The public is reminded to stay alert to mosquito-borne diseases. Travellers should adopt the following measures to avoid mosquito bites when travelling overseas:

* Avoid visiting mosquito-infested areas.
* Avoid visiting forests or areas with monkeys;
* Wear long-sleeved clothes and long trousers light in colour for  protection against mosquitoes;
* Use insect repellent on exposed parts of the body.
* Use mosquito screens or nets when the room is not air-conditioned.
* Travellers returning from countries where Chikungunya is endemic and suffering from symptoms of the disease should seek prompt medical advice.

     To prevent mosquito borne diseases, it is important to eliminate pockets of stagnant water that serve as mosquito-breeding sites at home, at schools, workplaces and their vicinity, and to avoid mosquito bites.

     A special hotline, 2125 2727, will operate during office hours to answer public enquiries. The hotline will operate until 9pm today.

     The latest information on infectious diseases in other places can be found under "Outbreak News" on the Hong Kong Travel Health Service website (

Ends/Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Issued at HKT 19:27