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Another mosquito-borne virus

Published: Monday, June 16, 2014 3:48 p.m. CDT

In addition to West Nile Virus, health officials are watching another mosquito-borne virus, called chikungunya, which had been primarily found previously in Africa, East Asia and the Caribbean Islands.

There are now confirmed cases of the chikungunya virus in the United States, specifically in North Carolina, Tennessee, Indiana, Nebraska, Rhode Island and Florida.

The ecological makeup of the United States supports the spread of an illness such as chikungunya, especially in the tropical areas of Florida and other southern states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to Roger Nasci, chief of the CDC’s Arboviral Disease Branch in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, about 25 to 28 infected travelers bring the virus into the United States each year. However, there have not been any locally transmitted cases in the United States so far, he said.

As stated by the CDC, the most common symptoms of the virus are fever and joint pain. The virus does not often result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling.

Most patients feel better within a week, but the joint pain may persist for months for some people. Those people most at risk for the more severe level include newborns infected around the time of birth, older adults (65 years), and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

Originally identified in East Africa in the 1950s, the chikungunya virus is most often spread to people by the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquito.

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