By IANS, [RxPG] The deaths of 93 people on the Indian Ocean island of Reunion were because of an epidemic of the mosquito-borne viral disease chikungunya, French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said here Friday.
In addition, 186,000 people, nearly one out of every four people living in the French overseas department, have had the illness since the epidemic broke out in March 2005, Bertrand said.
During a visit to the island Sunday, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced 76 million euros ($90 million) in aid to combat the virus.
French media reported that there was now concern in Paris over Villepin's health, because he was apparently stung by a mosquito while on the island.
Chikungunya means "stooped walk" in Swahili, a reference to how the painful, crippling disease affects sufferers, and was thought to be rarely fatal. But researchers now fear that the virus may have mutated.
Indo-Asian News Service
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