The Saint Louis County Department of Health is reporting its first case of Chikungunya – a virus spread by mosquitoes. The patient did not contract the disease locally, but while travelling in the Caribbean.
Although this is the first case reported in St. Louis County, there have been approximately 400 travel-related cases reported throughout the United States. Only two cases in the contiguous U.S. have been locally-transmitted – both of them in Florida.
Most people infected with Chikungunya will develop symptoms within 3 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, but patients can also experience headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and a rash. Although the symptoms can be severe, Chikungunya is not often fatal.
Chikungunya can only be transmitted by a mosquito bite. It cannot be transmitted by person-to-person contact. In addition, there are only two species of mosquito that can carry Chikungunya – only one of which is found in the St. Louis area (Aedus albopictus). Currently, the mosquitos in the St. Louis region do not carry Chikungunya.