Williamson County and Cities Health District
Chikungunya is a virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes. At this time, there have not been any cases of the disease known to have been acquired in Texas. Chikungunya virus has caused outbreaks in Africa, Asia and the islands in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. Recently, it has been imported to the Caribbean and has spread rapidly through multiple islands, including Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Travelers to these countries could carry the virus back to the United States and infect local mosquito populations. The southern portion of the United States, including Texas, is home to a mosquito population that could potentially become infected with the virus and transmit it to residents.
Q: What are the symptoms of chikungunya?
A: Most people infected with chikungunya virus will develop some symptoms. The most common symptoms of chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Chikungunya does not often result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling. Most patients feel better within a week. In some people, the joint pain may persist for months. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
Q: Where does it occur?
A: 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 islands in the Caribbean, and has since spread in the region. As of June 6, 2014, the Pan American Health Organization reports over 130,000 cases in the Caribbean islands. In 2014, 11 locally-acquired cases were confirmed in Florida.
Q: How does the disease spread to mosquitoes?
A: Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. A person can potentially transmit the virus to a mosquito when the virus is present in their blood, from approximately 2 days before becoming ill and for up to 5 days after they become ill. Any returning traveler who suspects that they may be sick with chikungunya should contact a physician and avoid mosquito contact through this period.
Q: Has anyone in Texas been diagnosed with chikungunya?
A: Yes, however all Texas cases were travel-associated, meaning the persons got infected outside the United States.
Q: Has anyone from Texas been bitten by a mosquito in Texas and come down with chikungunya?
A: No. There is currently no evidence that any mosquitoes in Texas carry the chikungunya virus.
Q: How long does it take for the disease to develop?
A: Symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. All travelers returning from countries known to have chikungunya should see their doctor if they start to feel ill within two weeks after returning home.
Q: Is there a vaccine for chikungunya?
A: There is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya.
Q: What is the treatment for chikungunya?
A: While there is no medicine to specifically treat chikungunya, your physician can help manage symptoms.
Q: What mosquito species carries the chikungunya virus?
A: Chikungunya virus is most often spread to people by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Both species are common in Texas and can spread Chikungunya virus. This type of mosquito prefers to lay their eggs in containers that hold small amounts of stagnant water, such as bird baths, buckets and tires. They do not typically breed in running water such as creeks or large ponds. These mosquitoes mostly bite during the day time hours, especially in the mornings and before sunset.
Q: Will mosquito truck spraying kill this mosquito?
A: Mosquito truck spraying is not the most efficient or effective way to kill this mosquito, especially since it is most active and bites during the daytime. This mosquito will hide in vegetation during the hours when mosquito spraying is typically done, usually before dawn and after dusk.
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