The CDC reports a man in Florida caught the mosquito-borne virus that's been taking the Caribbean by storm. U.S. health officials today announced the first locally acquired case of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that's become prevalent in the Caribbean in recent months.
The CDC reports a male patient in Florida was diagnosed with the virus, and had not recently traveled outside the country. Federal and Florida state health officials are investigating how the man could have contracted the virus domestically. They're also working to monitor the region in an effort to prevent additional infections and educate residents on ways to prevent mosquito bites. Local transmission occurs when the insect bites a person with the infection and then transmits the virus by biting others.
Chikungunya -- an African word that loosely translates as "contorted with pain" -- is most commonly found in Asia and Africa, and began appearing in the Caribbean last winter. Between 2006 and 2013, there were approximately 28 reported cases of the virus each year in travelers returning to the U.S. This year, travel-related chikungunya has been diagnosed in patients who have recently visited to the Caribbean.
Chikungunya virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes. The most common symptoms of chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Outbreaks have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. In late 2013, chikungunya virus was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean. Chikungunya virus is not currently found in the continental United States. There is a risk that the virus will be imported to new areas by infected travelers. There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus infection. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. When traveling to countries with chikungunya virus, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.