First Case of Chikungunya In North Carolina

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by Tyler Bell

Raleigh, N.C. -- The first case of chikungunya in North Carolina was confirmed in a resident who recently traveled to the Caribbean.

Chickungunya virus is transmitted through infected mosquito bites, and the Asian Tiger mosquito that is commonly found in North Carolina. At this time, there have not been any cases of the disease known to have been acquired in North Carolina or the continental United States.

Symptoms usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms may include the sudden onset of fever and severe, often disabling, joint pains in hands and feet.

Many patients feel better in a week, but joint pains may persist for months in some people.

There's greater risk for a sever form of the disease for newborns exposed during delivery, adults over 65 years and people with chronic medical conditions.

The disease was introduced to the Caribbeans in 2013 through travelers returning from affected areas after it was established in Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific Regions.

As of June 6, chickungunya has caused illness in 130,000 people in Caribbean.

DHHS's Division of Public Health advises travelers traveling to countries where chickungunya transmission is occurring to take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites; and immediately consult a medical provider if they develop fever in the 2 weeks after returning home.

In order to protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites you should wear light-colored long pants and long sleeve shirts; reduce time spent outdoors, particularly during early morning and early evening hours when mosquitoes are most active; Apply EPA-approved mosquito repellents such as DEETS, picardin. oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 to exposed skin areas, always follow guidelines when using mosquito repellent; since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, spray clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will will give extra protection.

The Asian Tiger mosquito is an aggressive daytime biter and the breed in small water containers. DHHS' Division of Public Health strongly recommends that all North Carolina residents to take measures to decrease favorable breeding conditions.

Remove any containers that can hold water; Change the water in bird baths and pet bowls frequently and repair leaky outdoor faucets; cover rain barrels with tight-fitting screens or lids; keep gutters clean and in good repair; and use screened windows and doors and make sure screens are not torn and fit tightly.

 

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