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15 new cases of mosquito virus reported in Fla; 81 chikungunya cases in travellers now tallied

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WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - State officials say the number of Florida travellers who contracted the mosquito-borne chikungunya (chik-in-GUHN'-yuh) virus has risen to 81.

Florida's Department of Health says 15 new cases of the virus were reported last week. Officials say all the patients documented in Florida contracted the virus while travelling in the Caribbean.

Chikungunya is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It was documented in 40 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe before it was first confirmed in the Caribbean late last year.

Symptoms typically begin three to seven days after being bitten and include fever and severe joint pain, often in the hands and feet. There is no vaccine, but it rarely kills those infected.

People infected with chikungunya are urged to avoid mosquito bites to prevent transmitting the virus.

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