What is the Chikungunya Virus (CHIKV)?
Pronounced CHIK-en-GUUN-ye, the African word means "that which bends up", referring to the joint pains associated with the virus.
The Chikungunya Virus is carried by mosquitoes, causing sudden high fever (>102F), muscle aches, severe joint pain mainly in the arms, back, and legs, headache, and rash. Symptoms appear about three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Most patients feel better after a few days or weeks. There is no specific medical treatment, nor vaccine. Over the counter medications can combat the symptoms.
How is CHIKV spread?
CHIKV is spread by bites from infected Aedes mosquiitoes - the mosquitoes that transmit the Dengue Fever virus. Bites occur mostly in the daytime.
Is it a problem in the United States?
Outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific Ocean regions. It first appeared in the Americas in late 2013, on the Carribbean Islands. On July 7, 2014, the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed the first Texas case was found in Williamson County. On July 22, 2014, Dallas County Health & Human Services confirmed the first case in the Metroplex. Both people were found to be infected after travelling to the Carribbean. As travel rates increase, it is likely CHIKV cases will increase as well.
Who is at risk for severe complications?
While the virus is not often fatal, the symptoms can be disabling and can cause severe complications lasting weeks, months, or even years. Infants (<1 year), the elderly (>65), and people with other chronic conditions such as a weak immune system, diabetes, hypertension, etc, are at risk for developing more severe complications. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you are bitten and fall into any of the high risk categories.
Take preventive measures.
If you're going to be outside or plan to travel to high risk nations, wear protective clothing (long sleeves and pants), use mosquito repellent on exposed skin, keep windows and doors closed or screened, and drain standing water to prevent mosquito pools.
Statistics for 2015:
As of 7/18/15, there has been one (1) imported human CHIKV case in Tarrant County.
Statistics for 2014:
In 2014, there were seven (7) human cases of CHIKV in Tarrant County, all imported by persons travelling into Tarrant County.
More information is available on the following websites:
Tarrant County Public Health Department (TCPHD)
Dallas County Heath & Human Services
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS)
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)