"Avoid mosquito bites" is the advice to avoid the disease. Photo: Johan Nilsson/Scanpix
Ockelbo disease

Unusual infectious disease moving north

Several cases of the unusual virus infection Ockelbo disease has been discovered further north than before, Swedish Television News reports. The infection, which in Sweden also known as berry picking disease, comes from mosquito bites. The symptoms include a rash, fever and other flu-like symptoms, but patients can also develop a painful arthritis.

So far, there have been 19 cases of the disease in Västerbotten, or West Bothnia, the region around the northern town of Umeå.

"There have been unusually many cases this far north, and at the same time we have not had that many cases in the south, and not so many cases in Finland. The spread of the cases are different from what they use to be," says Urban Kumlin, senior physician at the department for clinical micro biology at Norrland's University Hospital.

There is no vaccine against the disease, which normally has run its course within a week, but some patients have aching joints in hands and feet for several years afterwards. Urban Kumlin's advice to avoid the disease it to "try not to be bitten by mosquitoes".

"Don't spend time in areas where there are a lot of mosquitoes. And if you do, use mosquito repellent and clothes that protects you from being bitten by mosquitoes," he tells Swedish Television News.

According to the online dictionary Wikipedia, "it has long been suspected that the disease is caused by a Sindbis-like virus, a positive-stranded RNA virus belonging to the Alphavirus genus and family Togaviridae."

According to the online dictionary Wikipedia, "it has long been suspected that the disease is caused by a Sindbis-like virus, a positive-stranded RNA virus belonging to the Alphavirus genus and family Togaviridae."

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