Brazilian state faces possible outbreak of chikungunya fever

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s northeastern state of Ceara is facing a possible outbreak of chikungunya fever, local authorities warned on Monday.

According to a local health official, about 80 percent of all the towns in Ceara state have reported the disease, and almost 60,000 cases have been confirmed there.

So far, 51 people have died of chikungunya fever in Ceara this year, with most deaths concentrated in eight towns, among them is the state capital Fortaleza.

Chikungunya is a relatively new disease in Brazil. The first cases in the country could date back to 2014 when 12 Brazilian cities hosted the FIFA World Cup. Since then, the epidemic has spread all over the country, with hundreds of thousands of cases being registered.

The disease is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Though rarely lethal, it can lead to long-term joint pain or the debilitating Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease.

These mosquitoes also transmit dengue fever and Zika, which is particularly dangerous to pregnant women, as it can cause microcephaly in fetuses.