The Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed Tuesday the first locally acquired case of chikungunya, a mosquito borne illness.
A Cameron County resident got sick with the illness in November 2015 and was diagnosed in January. The case was reported to the local health department in April. The investigation performed by the Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services determined the patient had not traveled, and the case was confirmed last week by testing at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chikungunya disease is a viral illness spread by mosquitoes and was first detected in travelers returning to Texas from areas with local transmission in 2014. All previous Texas residents who contracted the illness were infected while traveling abroad. Because this case was contracted more than six months ago and mosquito surveillance has not found chikungunya in local mosquitoes, the primary risk of infection remains related to travel. DSHS encourages people to protect themselves from mosquito bites at home and while traveling to stop the spread of chikungunya, Zika and West Nile virus.
Chikungunya illness is rarely fatal but the flu-like symptoms include severe joint pain, high fever, head and muscle aches, joint swelling and rash. Most people feel better within a week, though some may develop longer-term joint pain.