Texas health officials reported today the confirmation of the first locally acquired case of chikungunya in the state. The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) says the patient is a Cameron County resident who got sick with the illness in November 2015 and was diagnosed with a lab test in January 2016.
The case, however, was not reported to the local health department until last month. The investigation performed by the Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services determined the patient had not traveled, and the case was confirmed last week by testing at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2014, Texas reported 116 travel-associated chikungunya cases, while last year only 43 cases were tallied.
This makes the 13th autochthonous (local) transmission of the mosquito borne virus in the US. Florida reported 12 locally acquired cases in 2014.
Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes such as Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, the same mosquitoes that transmit dengue and Zika viruses. It can cause high fever, join and muscle pain, and headache. Chikungunya does not often result in death, but the joint pain may last for months or years and may become a cause of chronic pain and disability.
There is no specific treatment for chikungunya infection, nor any vaccine to prevent it. Pending the development of a new vaccine, the only effective means of prevention is to protect individuals against mosquito bites.