Virologists are working to slow the spread of the largest recorded outbreak of chikungunya, a relatively unknown mosquito-borne disease that has swept through the island of Reunion, and was recently reported in India. Some researchers are focusing their efforts on a promising, early-stage vaccine developed by the U.S. military.The French government, under media fire for alleged slow response to the epidemic, has formed a special panel to coordinate research on emerging diseases, especially chikungunya. The World Health Organization is sending a team to the region.Named for the Swahili for "that which bends up," chikungunya is an alphavirus vectored by culicine mosquitoes, causing high fever, joint pain, and rarely neurological and hemorrhagic symptoms. Isolated in 1953 in Tanzania, the virus likely originated in a tropical African forest cycle involving wild primates and mosquitoes, spreading via Aedes aegyptii and others to urban Africa and Asia, causing sporadic epidemics in Thailand...

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