In a follow-up to a report last week, The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health has confirmed the state’s first case of chikungunya (pronounced chik-en-gun-ye), a viral mosquito-borne illness that has made its way to the United States via the Caribbean from Africa, Asia, and the islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific.
“The individual infected with chikungunya traveled from western West Virginia to Haiti and became symptomatic upon return to the United States,” said Dr. Letitia Tierney, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health. “I must stress the importance of wearing mosquito repellent containing deet, picaridin or oil of eucalyptus when residents are conducting outdoor activities to protect from mosquito bites and always wash off any insect repellent at the end of the day. Infants under 2 months should be protected with mosquito netting when outdoors.”
The Bureau for Public Health today sent letters to health departments and health care providers advising providers of the confirmed case along with clinical information and prevention messaging.
Symptoms of chikungunya usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and can include fever and severe joint pains, often in the hands and feet. Other possible symptoms include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. At the beginning of the sickness, individuals will experience a flu-like illness. Chikungunya does not often result in death.
In addition to chikungunya, mosquitos can transmit West Nile, La Crosse, eastern equine encephalomyelitis, and other viruses. Chikungunya, like Dengue fever, can be transmitted from an infected human to an Aedes mosquito which in turn can bite another human and pass along the disease. Aedes mosquitoes are day biters which can lay eggs in very small amounts of water. Early detection of the symptoms and preventing mosquitoes from biting will help prevent the disease from spreading.
Residents are encouraged to drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots, or any other containers that may collect water which could serve as a breeding pool. Wearing shoes, socks, long pants, long sleeves, and mosquito repellent can also help prevent mosquito bites.