FL DOH Confirms First Domestic Chikungunya Cases
By Dr. James Palermo // July 19, 2014
MOSQUITO-BORNE VIRUS ORIGINATED IN THE CARIBBEAN
ABOVE VIDEO: KXAN reports on the first cases of chikungunya mosquito-borne virus infection originating in the U.S.
Yesterday, the Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) reported the first case of chikungunya virus infection acquired within the continental U.S. The mosquito-borne disease that can cause high fever and joint pain was confirmed by the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in a male who had not recently traveled outside the U.S.
Two cases, one found in Miami-Dade County and another in Palm Beach County, are under investigation, with the CDC working closely with Florida public health officials to determine how the patient contracted the virus and monitor for additional domestically acquired cases that may occur.
MOSQUITO-BORNE VIRUS TYPICALLY NOT LIFE THREATENTING
The disease spreads by mosquitoes biting an infected person and then biting someone else. Chikungunya outbreaks have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans, and in late 2013, the first local transmission of chikungunya virus in the Americas was identified in Caribbean countries and territories. Since then, the virus has spread rapidly in the Caribbean islands.
Two hundred cases of chikungunya have been reported in Americans who contracted the disease outside the U.S. and carried it home. However, the CDC downplayed the risk of further movement into the continental U.S.
According to the FDOH, the disease is not contagious from person to person and is typically not life-threatening. Symptoms generally appear three to seven days after exposure to the bite of an infected mosquito and include the sudden onset of high fever, severe joint pain, headache, muscle pain, back pain and rash. Most patients feel better after a few days or weeks, but others can develop long-term effects, such as persistent joint pain, the department said.
CDC: LOW PROBABILITY FOR WIDESPREAD DOMESTIC OUTBREAK
CDC officials believe chikungunya will behave like dengue virus in the U.S., where imported cases have resulted in sporadic local transmission but have not caused widespread outbreaks.
“None of the more than 200 imported chikungunya cases between 2006 and 2013 have triggered a local outbreak. However, more chikungunya-infected travelers coming into the U.S. increases the likelihood that local chikungunya transmission will occur.”
There is currently no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya fever.
Anna Likos, Florida state epidemiologist and disease control and health protection director addressed the general prevention of mosquito-borne diseases in a prepared statement, saying, “We encourage everyone to take precautions against mosquitoes to prevent chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases by draining standing water, covering your skin with clothing and repellent and covering doors and windows with screens.”