WILLIAMSON COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) — The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed the first human case of chikungunya, a viral disease that can cause severe joint pain and is spread by mosquitoes.
The case was discovered in a Williamson County (north of Austin) resident, who had recently returned from a trip to the Caribbean. The disease has been present in that region since late 2013.
The health department says the infections are rarely fatal, but can cause “severe joint pain, high fever, head and muscle aches, joint swelling and rash.”
Symptoms usually begin within three to seven days after being bitten by the mosquito. Though there is no vaccine or treatment for the virus, most people feel better within a week, though some patients develop long-term joint pain.
To date, there are no reports that the disease has been spread locally within the United States, though it is certainly possible within Texas due to the the presence of mosquitoes.
The DSHS encourages citizens to protect themselves by taking the following steps:
- Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside, and follow label instructions.
- Drain standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
- Wear long sleeves and pants when outside.
- Use air conditioning or make sure doors and windows are screened to keep mosquitoes outside.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of travelers visiting or returning to the U.S. from affected areas will likely increase.
The DSHS is encouraging health care professionals to consider both chikungunya and dengue infection in patients with acute onset of fever and joint pain.
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