The first Nebraska case of a mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya was recently reported to state health officials. Chief Medical Officer and Director of Public Health Dr. Joseph Acierno says it isn’t found in mosquitoes in the United States, but travelers to Africa, Europe and Asia need to take precautions.
“Travel associated cases of this disease are fairly uncommon in the U.S. However, we expect to see more in the coming years,” Dr. Acierno explains. “Thankfully, deaths from the disease are rare, but the pain can be severe and debilitating.”
Symptoms of chikungunya include severe joint pain, fever, rash, and muscle pain. Dr. Acierno says this is a good reminder that mosquitoes transmit all kinds of viruses to humans and there are precautions that can be taken to limit bites from the insects.
“Use mosquito repellant containing DEET, dress in long-sleeved shirts, pants, and socks when you’re outside and to drain standing water when you’re around your home,” Dr. Acierno advises. “Standing water and warmth provide an ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.”
The victim is a female under 25 and recently traveled to Haiti and public health officials believe she got the virus there. She was hospitalized but released and continues to recover.
In 2014, there have been 27 confirmed chikungunya cases in the United States in nine different states–Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, and Virginia. From 2006-2013, an average of 28 people contracted the disease.
By Karla James, Nebraska Radio Network