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U.S. health officials issue travel advisory for St. Martin

MIAMI (Reuters) - U.S. health officials issued an advisory on Wednesday about travel to the Caribbean island of St. Martin due to concerns about a mosquito-borne virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, said in a statement it was tracking reports of the chikungunya virus, which has surfaced among some residents of the French side of St. Martin.

An infection from the virus is rarely fatal, the CDC said. Symptoms include a rash, headaches, joint and muscle pains. Infected patients often recover within a week, although joint pain can last longer.

The CDC said it was the first time the virus, which is transmitted by the same mosquitoes that spread the dengue virus, has been reported among non-travelers in the Western Hemisphere.

Previous outbreaks were reported in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific.

Ten cases have been confirmed on St. Martin, according to the World Health Organization.

The French side of St. Martin, an island in the eastern Caribbean, is home to some 35,000 inhabitants. The island also has a Dutch side known as Sint Maarten.

(Reporting by Kevin Gray; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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