Canada’s health agency says more than 200 Canadians have been infected by the chikungunya virus that has affected thousands of people in the Caribbean.
On Tuesday, Health Canada reported that 201 Canadians have been infected with the mosquito borne virus.
Eric Morrissette, a spokesman for Health Canada, said the cases have been confirmed among travelers returning from endemic areas in 2014.
“A very significant rise in infections by this virus has occurred in 2014, which is consistent with the large outbreak in the Caribbean region and ongoing activity in the Asia-Pacific area.”
He said the majority of the Canadian cases stem from travel to Caribbean, adding that there is no evidence of local transmission in Canada, since the specie of mosquito that transmits the virus is not native to the country.
The first case of the disease in the Western Hemisphere was documented on St. Martin last December.
Chikungunya has been present in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region for decades.
Almost 800,000 people have been infected in the Caribbean, the majority of them in the Dominican Republic.
The Public Health Agency of Canada urged travelers to consult a health-care provider, or visit a travel-health clinic, at least six weeks before going to the Caribbean.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said while there is no vaccine or treatment to fight the virus, most infected patients recover fully.
“But in some cases joint pain may persist for several months, or even years,” WHO said.
“Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications have been reported, as well as gastrointestinal complaints.Serious complications are not common; but, in older people, the disease can contribute to the cause of death,” it added.