HOLIDAYMAKERS in Alicante have been hit by chikungunya virus outbreak spread by infected tiger mosquito bites.
Health chiefs in the Spanish resort are carrying out extensive tests, including in a private villa and hotel, after three tourists were confirmed to have contracted the disease.
Local doctors have also been put on the alert in case any patients show signs of the illness which are similar to those of flu and might otherwise be missed.
As yet, no trace has been found of any tiger mosquito but the health department is reported to be "very determined" to continue tests which began last Friday until the source is found.
The three tourists all came from the same family from Iceland and were in Alicante from May 17th to 31st. These are the first 100 per cent confirmed cases in Spain.
It is understood they were staying in a private villa but also visited a local hotel which has not been named.
One of the trio, a 37-year-old woman, became ill on June 1st and was diagnosed seven days later. She went to the emergency centre of a hospital in Reykjavik and proved positive for chikungunya but negative for the more serious zika and dengue.
One of her sisters and her five-old son had the same symptoms and were confirmed as positive cases of the virus which can cause fever, chills, joint pain and swelling, headache, muscle pain and a rash.
Tests carried out on a fourth member of the family, another sister from Norway, have not yet proved conclusive.
Experts are certain they did contract the virus in Alicante.
The disease can only be transmitted by an infected tiger mosquito and the incubation period usually lasts between four and seven days although it can vary between one and 12 days.
Investigators have asked the family to provide precise details of where they went during their holiday so these locations can also be checked. The villa is understood to be in Playa San Juan. The checks will be made within the next few days when the updated information is received.
At this stage, says La Opinion de Murcia, there is no indication that the virus is circulating in Alicante but health centres are on the alert.
Alicante's health department has yet to officially announce any measures but these are likely to include disinfecting certain areas where the tourists stayed, including the villa and surrounds of the hotel, and other preventative measures.
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