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Chikungunya case confirmed in Georgia

6/20/2014, 4:18 p.m.
A mosquito-borne virus causes chikungunya. Travelers to the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and some Indian and Pacific islands are at risk.

The first human case of chikungunya, a disease spread through mosquito bites, has been confirmed in Georgia.

The patient was infected during a recent trip to a Caribbean nation.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported more than 60 confirmed cases of chikungunya in the United States and says the number is growing.

All infected U.S. patients have traveled to countries where the virus is circulating.

The Georgia Department of Public Health says that chikungunya is not spread through human-to-human contact.

Its most common symptoms are fever and severe joint pain, especially in the hands and feet. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash. Symptoms usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, with most patients feeling better within a week. However, joint pain can persist for months.

Chikungunya symptoms can be severe and disabling but do not often result in death.

Travelers to the Caribbean, Africa, Asia, and islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific are at risk for the virus.

Anyone with chikungunya symptoms should seek medical attention and make their health care provider aware of any travel history outside of the country.

Dr. Cherie Drenzek, state epidemiologist, said it is important that patients who are infected keep guard against additional mosquito bites.

“During the first week or so of infection, chikungunya virus can be passed from an infected person to another mosquito through mosquito bites,” Drenzek said in a June 19 statement. “An infected mosquito can then transmit the virus to other people.”

Drenzek said that human-to-human infection has not happened so far in the United States.


Five D’s of Prevention’

Fight mosquito-borne diseases with the Five D’s of Prevention.

  • Dusk/Day/Dawn – Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus usually bite at dusk and dawn. Avoid or limit outdoor activity at these times. Mosquitoes carrying chikungunya virus bite during the day.
  • Dress – Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and pants to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
  • DEET – Cover exposed skin with an insect repellent containing DEET.
  • Drain – Empty any containers holding standing water. They are excellent breeding grounds for virus-carrying mosquitoes.
  • Doors – Make sure doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly. Fix torn or damaged screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya.