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Cuban health authorities on Wednesday confirmed the country's first six cases of chikungunya fever, a debilitating, mosquito-borne virus that is suspected of afflicting tens of thousands across the Caribbean since its arrival in the region last year. In a statement published by Communist Party newspaper Granma and other official media, the Health Ministry said those sickened were islanders who traveled recently to Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Chikungunya, which has long been present in Africa and Asia, was first detected in the Caribbean in December. Deriving its name from an African word that loosely translates as "contorted with pain," chikungunya is rarely fatal, but symptoms are like a combination of a terrible flu and a sudden case of arthritis, with searing headaches, a high fever and intense muscle and joint pain.