GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) -- A mosquito-borne virus that has been spreading fast since the first locally transmitted case in the Western Hemisphere has infected at least 12 more people in Guyana.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency confirmed the new cases of chikungunya from among 130 blood samples collected in Guyana, Health Minister Bheri Ramsarran said late Wednesday.
The new infections occurred near the border with Suriname and about 20 miles from where the first two cases were documented in Guyana last week, Ramsarran said.
The government is spraying pesticides to control the two species of mosquitoes that spread the virus, which is rarely fatal but causes severe fever and arthritis-like join pain in many of its victims.
Guyana was the second place in mainland South America to report a locally transmitted case after French Guiana. There have, however, been cases in Venezuela and other countries among people who picked up the virus elsewhere.
The Pan American Health Organization has recorded as of May 30 more than 100,000 confirmed and suspected cases of chikungunya since the first locally transmitted case in the Caribbean in French St. Martin in December.
Local agencies are reporting higher numbers of the virus than the Pan American Health Organization. In the Dominican Republic alone, for example, the health ministry says it has detected more than 103,000 cases.