CHARLESTON – A health advisory has been issued by the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources confirming the first case of the ‘Chikungunya Virus’ in West Virginia.
According to the advisory, the person traveled to Haiti and became symptomatic upon return to the United States.
Over 20 states and territories of the U.S. have reported imported cases, the advisory stated.
“Outbreaks have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and the Oceania/Pacific Islands,” the alert said.
What is chikungunya virus?
According to the DHHR’s online website, Chikungunya is a virus that is spread to people from the bite of a mosquito (most commonly Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus).
Aedes albopictus is also called the “Asian tiger mosquito” and has been found in many counties in West Virginia.
Chikungunya virus was discovered during an outbreak in Tanzania in 1952.
Chikungunya can cause large outbreaks when it is introduced to a new region of the world.
In 2013, chikungunya was first found in the Caribbean and it infected over 150,000 people by June, 2014, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
How is chikungunya spread to people?
Mosquitoes get the infection when they bite a person with chikungunya. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.
Chikungunya is usually not transmitted from one person to another, but the virus can spread from mother to child, the report states.
There have been no cases of the virus being spread by a blood transfusion.
What is the incubation period for chikungunya virus?
Symptoms usually begin 3-7 days after a bite from an infected mosquito and include fever, joint pain, rash, headache, muscle pain and joint swelling. Symptoms can be severe, but the disease does not often result in death, the report said.
“Persons at risk for severe disease include newborns and adults over 65 years of age,” the advisory stated. “Cases are strongly encouraged to avoid mosquito bites during first 1-2 weeks from illness onset as the risk of transmitting the virus to a biting mosquito is highest during this time period. Infected mosquitoes can bite people, resulting in locally-acquired cases of disease.
Testing for the virus must be arranged through the local health department.
“There is no treatment for Chikungunya virus,” the advisory said. “Cases are advised to get plenty of rest, keep hydrated and relieve acute pain and fever with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).”
Healthcare providers should report any suspected cases to the local health department within 24 hours to facilitate diagnosis and testing, and to mitigate the risk of local transmission, the advisory said.
For the most up to date information about Chikungunya, visit the online website at http://www.dhhr.wv.gov/oeps/disease/zoonosis/mosquito/pages/chikungunya.aspx