With an increase in the mosquito-borne viral infections caused by chikungunya in areas of Italy, the National Center for Blood (CNS) of the Higher Health Institute (ISS) suspended donations of blood and blood components in the municipality of Anzio and the Municipality of Rome, according to the health ministry (computer translated).

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Gross
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Gross

Seventeen cases of the disease have been recorded in recent days in Italy’s Latium region that includes Rome.

The move would affect 1.2 millions donors. About 15,000 units of blood per month are collected in the region, including at least 11,000 in the only province of Rome. The capital collects many patients from other regions, especially in the south, in its hospitals, and there are about 400 thalassemic patients requiring periodic transfusions and have 400-450 units of red blood cells per day.

LISTEN: Chikungunya: An interview with Dr Roger Nasci

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. It can cause high fever, join and muscle pain, and headache.

Chikungunya does not often result in death, but the joint pain may last for months or years and may become a cause of chronic pain and disability.

There is no specific treatment for chikungunya infection, nor any vaccine to prevent it. Pending the development of a new vaccine, the only effective means of prevention is to protect individuals against mosquito bites.