Local Case of Severe Mosquito-Borne Disease Found in Texas

2 minute read

Health experts in Texas report the first locally-acquired case of the mosquito-borne disease chikungunya in the state. The disease is spread by the same mosquitoes that transmit Zika.

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed the case. The individual got sick back in November 2015 and was diagnosed with a confirmed lab test in January 2016. The health department was informed last month. The person had not traveled, which is how investigators determined that they got the illness from a local mosquito. Until now, the only people who had contracted chikungunya in Texas had gotten the disease while abroad.

Chikungunya causes fever and intense joint pain, and while it’s not often fatal, the pain can be debilitating. It’s a relatively new virus to the Americas, and has infected millions in the past. In the last couple years, the disease spread rapidly through the Caribbean and Central and South Americas, with some cases in the United States. As of January 2016 there have been around 680 cases of chikungunya with disease starting in 2015 reported to the CDC.

Health experts in Texas say that since the case of chikungunya happened months ago, the primary source of infection remains traveling. The same mosquitoes that spread chikungunya, like the aedes aegypti mosquito, also spreads the Zika virus, which is rapidly infecting people in the Americas and Caribbean. The United States anticipates that there will be some local transmission of Zika in the U.S. You can read about how the U.S. is preparing for Zika here.

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