Texas confirms first case of mosquito-borne virus

By John Brannen - Web Editor, Rachel McNeill - Anchor

HOUSTON - The first human case of chikungunya in the state has been confirmed by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

Officials say the victim is a man who lives in Williamson County near Austin. The man recently returned from a trip to the Caribbean, where chikungunya has infected humans since 2013.

Chikungunya is spread to people by Aedes mosquitoes. These type of mosquitoes are active and bite during the day, according to health officials.

Symptoms include high fever, severe joint pain, muscle aches, headaches and rashes but it is usually not fatal. Officials say the sickness lasts about a week before patients start feeling better. In some cases, people can develop long-term joint pain.

Chikungunya is not contagious from person to person contact. However, a person with the virus can become a source for a mosquito that can then spread it through bites.

The presence of chikungunya is expected to increase in the U.S. because of the number of travelers traveling to and from the Caribbean and the Pacific. There have also been outbreaks in Africa, Southern Europe, southeast Asia and island in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

The DSHS encourages people to prevent chikungunya by using the following precautions:

  • Use an approved insect repellent each time you go outside. Follow label instructions
  • Drain standing water so mosquitoes cannot breed
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when outside
  • Use air conditioning or make sure doors and windows are screened to keep mosquitoes outside

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