Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Chikungunya Virus Now in Texas

You may have heard of a new viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes called Chikungunya (pronounced like chicken - goon - ya).  Chikungunya has been found in countries like Africa, Asia, and Europe but recently in the Americas and Caribbean.

We had our first confirmed case of the disease in Texas in Williamson County.  The individual had traveled to the Caribbean where they picked up the disease.

The bad news is that the species that common transmit Chikungunya are found here (in the US and Texas), which means it can become endemic to this area and spread within the state could occur.  These are the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes - usually day time feeders and container water breeders.

Chikungunya is thankfully rarely fatal, but extremely painful.  The common symptoms are extreme joint pain, headache, muscle pain, and joint swelling.  There is no cure or treatment for the virus, other than pain relievers for the symptoms.

If you are travelling to the Caribbean this summer or in the future, be sure to pack some insect repellent to reduce your risk of contracting the disease.  Now that we know we have a confirmed case just down the road, it would also be a wise decision to avoid mosquitoes at home and apply insect repellent when you step outdoors.

For more information about Chikungunya, visit the Center for Disease Control's website at www.cdc.gov

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