ROME (Reuters) - Italian health officials have banned residents across half of Rome from donating blood because of an outbreak of the painful, mosquito-borne illness Chikungunya.
At least 17 people in southeastern Rome have been diagnosed with the virus since the end of August, and the local health authority decided to suspend blood donations in the affected areas to prevent accidental transmission.
The ban covers some 1.2 million residents. Anyone who has visited the affected area of the capital since Aug. 25 should not give blood for 28 days.
Chikungunya symptoms include high fever, joint and muscular pain, severe headaches, nausea and a rash. They normally surface within three to seven days after a bite from an infected mosquito and typically dissipate within a week. The virus is not deadly, but there is no vaccine.
The disease is typically found in tropical areas and used to be entirely absent from Italy.
However, a mosquito which transmits Chikungunya, the Tiger Mosquito, first appeared in the country in the 1990s and is now commonplace, and there was an outbreak of the virus around the city of Ravenna in 2007.
Reporting by Crispian Balmer, editing by Larry King