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Threatwatch: Chikungunya virus spreads in the Americas

 Eight years ago it spread beyond Africa, where it originated, to Eurasia . Now it has crossed the planet – and could already be more widespread than health agencies realise.

Chikungunya is rarely lethal, but it is painful and can cause chronic, debilitating joint pain. On reaching Asia, it spread rapidly and made millions ill, as people had no immunity. A few experimental treatments and vaccines exist, but none has yet left the lab.

Two years ago, when the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), a public health agency that works in all countries in the Americas, drew up a plan for Chikungunya's arrival, it warned that the Americas could face the same situation as Asia.

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