Friday, June 13, 2014

Chikungunya virus strikes North Carolina resident

North Carolina’s first case of chikungunya, a viral infection that can be transmitted to humans by infected mosquitos, was confirmed in a resident who recently traveled to the Caribbean.

The virus has been spreading rapidly through the Caribbean, but for now, no cases of the disease are known to have been acquired in North Carolina or in the continental United States.

Still, state health officials say the Asian Tiger mosquito that is commonly found in North Carolina could effectively transmit this virus.

Prior to its introduction in the Caribbean, chikungunya was established in East Africa, India, the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific regions. It was introduced in the Caribbean in 2013 through travelers returning from affected areas. As of June 6, chikungunya has caused illness in over 130,000 persons in the Caribbean, state health officials said.

Symptoms of chikungunya usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. They typically include sudden onset of fever and severe, often disabling, joint pains in the hands and feet. Many patients feel better within a week, but joint pain may persist for months in some people. Newborns exposed during delivery, adults over 65 years and people with chronic medical conditions have a greater risk for a severe form of the disease.

State health officials advise people traveling to countries where chikungunya transmission is occurring to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and immediately consult a doctor if they develop fever in the two weeks after their return.

“With North Carolina residents traveling to and from the Caribbean and other affected areas, we have been monitoring for possible imported cases,” said Dr. Megan Davies, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health and Human Services. “Travelers who visit countries where chikungunya is widespread should take extra precaution against mosquito bites.”

Precautions include wearing light-colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts, reducing time outdoors during early morning and early evening hours when mosquitoes are most active, and applying mosquito repellents such as DEET, picardin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 to exposed skin areas.

Also, residents should take steps to decrease possible breeding grounds for the Asian Tiger mosquito. That means removing containers that hold water, changing water in bird baths and pet bowls, keeping gutters in good repair, using screens for doors and windows.





3 comments:

Anonymous said...

The state is planning to end state mosquito control aid to the counties.

Anonymous said...

very scary virus.

Anonymous said...

Do not even take a chance with this. It took several months for the symptoms to flush out of someone I know. Drugs just keep the pain tolerable. The joint pain was constant in almost every joint in the body. Several doctors at a couple major university hospitals could do nothing, it had to run its course.