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Chikungunya Spreads to Guatemala

Chikungunya has been spreading across the Caribbean and into Central America since December 2013. The first cases of the virus in the Americas were reported on the island of Saint Martin. By May over 4000 cases had been reported across the region, prompting the Caribbean Public Health Agency to declare the virus an epidemic.

Since then, the virus has spread to 31 countries and territories in the Western Hemisphere, according to the United States Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDCP).

"As of September 5, 2014... a total of 651,344 suspected and 9,182 laboratory-confirmed chikungunya cases had been reported from these areas," the CDCP warned. Common symptoms of the virus include a fever and joint pain, sometimes accompanied by headaches, rash, swollen joints and sore muscles.

Most cases usually resolve within a week, but some people can suffer severe joint pain for years.

The mosquito-borne virus causes fever and severe joint pain, but is rarely fatal. There is no vaccine, and it mainly is treated with pain medication.

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