A case of Chikungunya (pronounced chik-un-gun-ya) has been confirmed in Collin County, Texas, located just northeast of Dallas. The infected individual recently traveled to another country and returned to the states with the virus. The risk of spread to Americans is from the virus being imported by travelers. Collin County is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas, statistical area.
Breitbart Texas reported in July 2014 that a Harris County (Houston area) resident was confirmed as having the disease. They had recently traveled internationally. Earlier that month, the first ever human instance of Chikungunya was confirmed in Texas in Williamson County near Austin, as reported by Breitbart Texas.
Dr. Bill Boudreaux, assistant professor and medical educator from the University of Texas School of Medicine told Breitbart Texas, “The name ‘chikungunya’ derives from a word in the Kimakonde language, meaning ‘to become contorted’ and describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain (arthralgia).”
There is no treatment or vaccine for infection by the virus but the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, has reported that an experimental vaccine has been found to protect monkeys from the Chikungunya virus.
The first locally acquired case of Chikunhunya in the states was reported in Florida on July 17th.
The fever was found for the first time in the Americas in late 2013, on islands in the Caribbean.
The fever is similar to dengue fever and is most prevalent in Africa, India, southeastern Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
It is transmitted to humans by two species of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. These are found in northeast America along the coast and through the mid-Atlantic states and in the lower Midwest.
Transmission has been most prevalent thus far in the lower Americas by the Aedes aegypti species.
Symptoms can include headache, joint swelling, fever, muscle ache, or rash.
According to a report by the UTMB, symptoms appear within three to seven days of being bitten by an infected mosquito. The joint pain is often found in hands and feet.
UTMB reports that while the majority of those infected with the virus feel better within a week, some individuals develop joint pain that lingers for weeks and months. While death from exposure is rare, it can occur. Those especially vulnerable to exposure include the elderly, newborns exposed during delivery, and those with high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge caution and prevention.
Remembering the four Ds is the best way to provide protection: (1) Drain standing water. (2) Use Deet repellant when outside. (3) Dress in a way to protect from bites such as wearing long pants and sleeves. (4) Use extra caution at dawn and dusk.
There are three mosquito-borne viruses – Chikungunya, Dengue Fever, and West Nile Virus.
Environmental health departments in Texas are spraying for mosquitoes and ask citizens and their pets to stay inside during the spraying.
West Nile virus has also been found in the Collin County area, as well as other areas of the state. The Texas Department of State Health Services has updated the arbovirus activity in the state as of August 11, 2015 with a detailed map by county.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2