A virus spread by mosquitoes that wasn’t in the Western Hemisphere until the end of 2013 has health experts very concerned. In December there were a few cases of chikungunya in the Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Haiti. Dr. Mark Rupp an infectious disease specialist with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and says now 200,000 cases have been reported reported and it is making its way north. He says this is a disease that could easily be endemic in the United States.
Dr. Rupp says there have been 74 cases in the U-S, one from Nebraska, and all of the victims had recently visited that area. Dr. Rupp says there is no reason to think that it can’t get into the mosquito population here and spread just as quickly. He is concerned it could be the next West Nile virus.
Chikungunya is typically not deadly but Dr. Rupp says it can make a person quite ill. He says symptoms include fever, muscle pain, joint aches, rash and head ache and it can last for more than a week however some of the pain can last for several months.
There is no prevention except the same we take to prevent West Nile virus and there is no cure.