Painful fever hits Gabon

Libreville, Gabon -

Health officials in the African nation of Gabon say at least 150 people have been sickened by a mosquito-borne illness.

File photo: A worker fumigates in the drainage to prevent mosquitoes breeding which caused the spread of chikungunya fever in Singapore on September 12, 2008. Credit: AFP

Gabon's Health Minister Marie Josee Ndombi announced on Wednesday night in a statement on national television that the patients had been hospitalised with suspected cases of chikungunya fever.

The illness can cause fevers, joint pain, headaches and rashes.

Chikungunya was first identified in Tanzania in the early 1950s and has caused periodic outbreaks in Asia and Africa since the 1960s.

Although rarely fatal, it can lead to joint pain so intense it is often too painful for victims to sit or stand.

An outbreak in 2007 infected more than 21 000 people in Gabon. - Sapa-AP