Six more Hoosiers have tested positive for the chikungunya virus, making a total of seven reported cases in the state. The majority of individuals have confirmed travel to the Caribbean, including four teens who were recently on mission trips to the area.

Image/CDC
Image/CDC

Transmitted by mosquitoes, chikungunya has been found in multiple Caribbean countries since December 2013. It has also been found in Africa, Asia and islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific areas. Mosquitoes in the United States do not appear to be carrying the virus.

“Unfortunately, we did expect more cases in Indiana this summer with more Hoosiers traveling to the Caribbean for vacation, business or mission trips,” said Jennifer Brown, DVM, State Public Health Veterinarian at the Indiana State Department of Health. “If you are traveling to the Caribbean or other areas of the world where chikungunya is found, be sure to take precautions against mosquito bites.”

The Indiana State Department of Health continues to receive specimens for testing and continues its surveillance and investigation for any chikungunya cases in Indiana.

Most people exposed to chikungunya will develop symptoms. Chikungunya does not often cause death, but the symptoms can be severe. The most common symptoms are high fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash. Most patients feel better within one week, but the joint pain can persist for months in some cases. People who develop these symptoms after traveling to the Caribbean or other areas where chikungunya is found should contact a health care provider immediately.

Some individuals may be more susceptible to severe diseases, including newborn infants, adults over age 65 and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. There is no specific treatment for chikungunya, but individuals can receive supportive care for relief of fever and joint pain. There is no vaccine for the virus.

Chikungunya is not spread from direct person to person contact, but can be transmitted from a sick person to a healthy person by the bite of an infected mosquito. Infected individuals are strongly advised to take extra precautions to avoid mosquitoes during the first week of illness.

“If you believe that you have had symptoms of chikungunya and have traveled recently to the Caribbean, visit your health care provider and tell them about your travel history,” said Dr. Brown.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not issued any travel advisory or restrictions for the Caribbean area.