Puerto Rico to pay for chikungunya tests, fearing cases being under reported amid epidemic

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Puerto Rico's health department is paying for laboratory tests that determine whether someone has the chikungunya virus amid an epidemic in the U.S. territory.

The announcement comes amid concerns that cases are being under reported because insurance does not cover the $250 test.

Health Department spokesman Rolando Roman said Wednesday that 241 cases had been confirmed as of July 1. Health experts believe the number is much higher.

Across the Caribbean, the Pan American Health Organization recorded 440,254 suspected and confirmed cases as of July 18.

The Western Hemisphere's first locally transmitted case was confirmed in December in the French Caribbean territory of St. Martin.

The mosquito-borne virus causes fever and severe joint pain, but is rarely fatal. There is no vaccine, and it mainly is treated with pain medication.