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10 cases of chikungunya virus reported in NC

Posted July 22, 2014

— North Carolina has recorded a 10th case of chikungunya virus, an infection spread by mosquito bites that can cause sudden onset of fever and severe joint pain in the hands and feet.

The most recent case, in Cabarrus County, was found in someone who had traveled to the Caribbean. 

So far all the cases of the virus in the state have been in those with recent travel outside the United States, but the Asian tiger mosquito, which is common in North Carolina, could transmit the virus, health authorities have said.

Florida health officials said Friday that there have been two domestically-acquired chikungunya infections in that state. In both, they said, a person infected with the virus after visiting the Caribbean was then bitten again by an uninfected mosquito in Florida, which then transmitted the illness further.

"The arrival of chikungunya virus, first in the tropical Americas and now in the United States, underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens," said Roger Nasci of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in a prepared statement.

Chikungunya virus is rarely fatal. Patients usually recover in about a week, although some people suffer long-term joint pain. There is no vaccine and no specific treatment for it.

More than 230 chikungunya cases have been reported in Americans this year, but all the others were travelers believed to have been infected elsewhere.

Now that chikungunya is in the United States, CDC officials think it will behave like dengue virus, with imported cases causing occasional local transmissions but not widespread outbreaks.

Chikungunya was first identified in 1952 in Tanzania. It first appeared in the Americas late last year, on a Caribbean island. By July 11, more than 355,000 suspected and confirmed cases were being reported in the Americas.


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