Officials said the disease has already killed at least 65 people in
Yemen, the southern neighbor of the Saudi kingdom. They said the prospect
that the disease would spread through Saudi Arabia and the Arabian Peninsula was high.
"We have already sent teams to the border area to prepare for any
epidemic," an official said.
So far, officials said the disease has been contained to the western
Yemeni province of Hodeidah. They said authorities have identified the
disease as chikungunya, symptoms of which include kidney failure, high fever
"Saudi health officials called us and inquired about the spread of a
disease in the border provinces," Abdul Hakim Al Khohlaini, an official at
the Yemeni Health Ministry, said. "We told them that it is chikungunya and
assured them that the disease is under control and far away from the Saudi
But the Yemeni report has not assuaged Saudi authorities. Officials
pointed to widespread infiltration of Yemenis into Saudi Arabia, which could
result in the spread of the disease.
"Some of the dead are very old, and most of the cases haven't been
verified by laboratories," Al Khohlaini said.