Written by By Lisa Respers France, CNN
Quebec is reporting seven new cases of a disease from a mosquito-borne virus that has caused dozens of hospitalizations and a handful of deaths in Toronto so far.
Health officials in the province reported one new death linked to the virus on Wednesday and said seven new cases had been identified since Monday.
“The seven new cases indicate that the disease has spread significantly in the last few days. It is believed that this strain will continue to circulate in the coming days,” the Quebec government’s website said in a news release.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, patients with the rare disease Chikungunya are usually infected in the Americas, typically the Caribbean, but also in parts of Asia and Africa.
The virus is believed to come from the dengue-like virus called chikungunya, which is found in the Zika virus. Both can transmit to humans through the bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Symptoms of chikungunya — which the World Health Organization considers a mild viral illness in most people — include a fever, headache, and muscle and joint pain.
“While these are usually moderate symptoms with no noticeable lasting effects, the flu-like illness of chikungunya can be very debilitating,” according to the WHO.
However, the severity of the illness varies from person to person, and people with severe symptoms can require hospitalization and even a long-term recovery.
The Quebec health authorities are advising people who have begun having symptoms including a fever, aching joints, rashes, headache and muscle aches, to seek medical attention.
Doctors can also help to prevent the virus from spreading if they follow a few preventive steps including:
Placing the patient’s nasal and throat passages into a plastic bag to kill the mosquito, using antiviral medications and sleeping with insect repellent or window screens and blocking unenclosed areas like unmade balconies
Meeting with the patient periodically to be sure the Aedes mosquito doesn’t return.
The public health agencies say current restrictions in place in Toronto are working. The number of cases in Toronto has risen to 31.
“We are seeing this disease moving north toward Quebec, Canada,” says Dr. Ruth Davidson, a epidemiologist with Public Health Ontario.
The number of illnesses in Toronto is already more than twice as high as at this time last year, with 41 cases at this time last year, she said.
It is unclear how many cases have been reported in Quebec.