NC reports first case of mosquito-borne chikungunya virus
Posted June 12, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — State health officials reported Thursday that a resident who recently traveled to the Caribbean has the first confirmed case in North Carolina of chikungunya, a virus transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.
There are no documented cases of the virus being acquired in North Carolina or the continental United States, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. But the Asian tiger mosquito, which is common in North Carolina, could transmit the virus.
Infected persons usually experience the sudden onset of fever and severe joint pain in the hands and feet. The pain typically improves within a week, but it may last for months or years in some patients.
Vulnerable groups, including newborns, those over 65 and those with chronic illness, risk a more severe form of the disease. In rare cases, patients have died.
The state did not give the gender, age, location or condition of the infected person in North Carolina.
Health officials said chikunguya was first found in East Africa, India, the Indian Ocean and western Pacific. It made its way to the Caribbean last December through travelers returning from affected areas.
As of June 6, more than 130,000 people in the Caribbean have become ill with the virus, according to the World Health Organization. There are 27 confirmed cases in the United States.
"With North Carolina residents traveling to and from the Caribbean and other affected areas, we have been monitoring for possible imported cases," State Epidemiologist Dr. Megan Davies said. "Anyone experiencing symptoms of chikungunya should contact a physician and minimize exposure to mosquitoes to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to others. Travelers who visit countries where chikungunya is widespread should take extra precaution against mosquito bites."
The Division of Public Health is advising residents to discourage breeding of the Asian tiger mosquito, which is aggressive in daylight and can breed in small water containers. Residents should remove outside containers that can hold water, frequently change water in bird baths and pet bowls, repair leaky outdoor faucets, tightly cover rain barrels, keep gutters clean and use screens on windows and doors.