Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) has confirmed Friday the first imported case of chikungunya virus disease in the county – a viral disease that can cause fever and severe joint pain and is spread to people by mosquitoes.

Tarrant County, Texas (in red) Image/David Benbennick
Tarrant County, Texas (in red)
Image/David Benbennick

The Mansfield, TX resident contracted the disease while in the Caribbean and was diagnosed by doctors upon returning home. Additional details are not being released to protect the identity of the patient.

This is the first imported case of chikungunya virus disease reported in Tarrant County – and the 13th in Texas.  To date, local spread of the virus has been reported in Florida, but no other states.

“There is no evidence of local transmission of chikungunya virus in our community at this time,” said Dr. Anita Kurian, Associate Director at Tarrant County Public Health. “Our best bet now is to continue with active human surveillance for the disease, so we are urging all healthcare providers to maintain a high index of suspicion for chikungunya virus disease, especially among patients who have traveled to places with the disease.” 

Imported cases could make local spread possible because the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the virus are found in Texas.

Aedes mosquitoes are active and bite during the day – so it’s important for people to protect themselves against mosquitoes at all times.

Because symptoms are similar, TCPH encourages physicians to consider both chikungunya and dengue infection in patients with acute onset of fever and joint pain – and patients who have recently visited areas where at least one of the viruses is present.

As of Aug. 19, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported 12 chikungunya cases from  Bexar, Brazoria, Collin, Dallas, Gonzales, Harris (3), Montgomery, Travis (2) and Williamson counties. The number of imported Chikungunya virus disease cases reported to CDC ArboNET as of Aug. 19 is  636 in 43 states and the District of Columbia.