North Carolina's first case of the chikungunya virus has been reported after a resident recently traveled to the Caribbean.
The chikungunya virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Symptoms typically include the sudden onset of fever and severe joint pains in the hands and feet. Many patients feel better within a week, however, joint pain may persist for months in some people. Newborns exposed during delivery, adults over 65 years old and people with chronic medical conditions have a greater risk for a severe form of the disease.
The chikungunya virus was well established in East Africa, India, the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific regions before being introduced to the Caribbean by infected travelers. As of June 6, chikungunya has caused illness to over 130,000 persons in the Caribbean.
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.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services advises residents traveling to countries where chikungunya transmission is occurring to take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites and immediately consult a medical provider if they develop a fever two weeks after returning home.
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