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Scientists raise alarm over spread of Chikungunya virus

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Scientists fear the mosquito-borne virus, Chikungunya, which has infected tens of thousands of people in Papua New Guinea, could spread to Australia.

The virus, which originated in Africa, is similar to dengue and causes debilitating joint pain, rashes and fever.

Amid an outbreak of the virus in Papua New Guinea, 112 Australians have been infected while on holidays in Asia so far this year.

In the decade to 2012, there were just 168 reported cases.

"We pointed towards travellers from Indonesia, India and Malaysia but in 2012/3 there has been a lot of Chikungunya activity in Papua New Guinea so depending on travel patterns there, perhaps for work, we may see the virus coming from that country as well," said David Harley, an epidemiologist at the Australian National University.

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