DALLAS (AP) — Health officials in Houston believe they’ve trapped a mosquito carrying a virus known as chikungunya, raising the possibility of people becoming infected locally.
If confirmed by further testing, the mosquito found in Harris County would be the first in Texas to have been found carrying the virus, which has been found in the Caribbean as well as Asia and Africa.
Ten people in Texas have been infected by chikungunya, but all of those cases are believed to have occurred during travel abroad. Two people in Florida last month were reported to have been infected in the United States.
Chikungunya is rarely fatal, but causes join pain, fever, muscle aches and rash, with recovery typically taking about a week.
The mosquito believed to be carrying the virus was trapped in northwest Harris County, in ZIP code 77041, said Mustapha Debboun, Harris County’s director of mosquito control.
Debboun said the discovery was a “big thing” and said he expected the results of follow-up testing to confirm the initial test. But he added that no human infections were linked to the mosquito and that the finding does not necessarily mean other mosquitoes carrying the virus were on the loose.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen in nature,” he said in an interview Thursday. “We might find more; we might find nothing.”
The county continues to spray for mosquitoes using trucks and small planes. Debboun also called on residents to use insect repellant, wear long sleeves whenever possible and drain any buckets or pools with standing water to deter mosquitoes.
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