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Texas Confirms First Human Case Of Chikungunya, A Mosquito-Borne Illness


State health officials have confirmed the first human case of chikungunya in Texas.

It’s a mosquito-borne illness that can cause very severe joint pain, a rash, and high fever. But it’s rarely fatal.

  “The symptoms typically are resolved in about a week, but sometimes people do develop longer term joint pain with that,” says Carrie Williams with the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The first human case is a Williamson County resident who recently returned from the Caribbean, where the virus showed up last year. Williamson County is north of Austin.

“We have been watching for it and we figured it was just a matter of time before we had our first confirmed, imported case,” Williams said. “What we’ll be watching for is any local transmission. So far in the continental United States we haven’t seen any local transmission.’

Health officials say chikungunya -- pronounced chick-un-gun-yuh -- is not transmitted person to person. But an infected person bitten by a mosquito could transfer the virus to the insect. Across the country, 27 other states report imported cases of the illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  Florida has the most with 34 cases.

Williams says the particular mosquito, the Aedes, is unlike those that carry the West Nile virus, which are active mainly at dawn and dusk.

Mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya bite during the day.

Williams says it’s smart to wear mosquito repellent anytime you go outside. 

Learn more about chikungunya.

(Photo Credit: mrfiza/Shutterstock)

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.