A painful, mosquito-borne illness has surfaced in the United States, after travelers from the Caribbean brought it back. The virus is currently raging in the Caribbean.
Health officials in North Carolina, Nebraska and Indiana reported this week the first confirmed chikungunya cases in those states, along with Tennessee which has suspected cases.
Chikungunya, the mosquito-borne illness, has swiftly spread in the Caribbean in recent months, sending thousands to hospitals complaining of painful joints, pounding headaches and sky high fevers.
Florida’s 25 cases account for the majority reported in the United States, according to state health officials and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Another area of concern is the cases in the continental United States have not been transmitted by local mosquitos, which could raise the threat.
“It will be more difficult for the virus to establish itself here,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The CDC is currently monitoring chikungunya in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Virginia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Symptoms of chikungunya surface within three to seven days after a bite from an infected mosquito and typ8ically go away after a week. There is no vaccine, and the virus is not life-threatening. Medications can help to calm high fevers.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency said this week the number of confirmed or suspected cases has jumped to 135,651, up from just over 100,000 on June 2. The virus has been detected in 20 countries and territories, with the largest outbreak of suspected cases being in the Dominican Republic.
Health officials in the Dominican Republic said they detected more than 77,000 suspected cases since the virus reached the country about five and a half months ago, including 20,000 new suspected cases in the last week alone, per the Public Health Ministry.
Painful Mosquito-borne Illness Surfaces in U.S.