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Thu June 12, 2014
NC Reports First Confirmed Case of Chikungunya Virus
Forsyth County health officials are warning residents about a flu-like virus associated with mosquitoes.
The Forsyth County Department of Public Health has confirmed its first case of the chikungunya virus. It’s a non-life threatening illness that makes a person very sick within two weeks of becoming infected.
Dr. Chris Ohl is the county’s medical director and an infectious disease specialist. He would only identify the person as a Forsyth County resident who was bitten by a mosquito while traveling in the Caribbean.
“Usually after a very short incubation period, a week or so, you’ll develop a sudden fever, a headache and pretty bad body aches, especially in the joints," explains Dr. Ohl. "Sometimes there’s a rash associated with this and sometimes there’s diarrhea.” Dr. Ohl says the person was not hospitalized, but recuperated at home and is no longer showing symptoms.
Like other viruses, there is no vaccine for chikungunya. Other areas where it’s also prevalent include; Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Dominican Guadalupe, parts of Africa, Asia and many of the islands in the West Indies.
The virus is not contagious to humans. It can only be transmitted by way of the black and white stripped Asian Tiger mosquito. Ryan Harrison oversees Forsyth County’s mosquito population. “The mosquito has to take a blood meal from an infected human and then infect a human the next time it takes a blood meal," says Harrison. "So it has to go from human to mosquito to human to mosquito.”
According to Harrison, the female Asian Tiger mosquito can lay up to 300 eggs in a month and it only breeds in containers. People can help reduce the population by eliminating standing water. “This needs to be a community effort. People can help us reduce this population by going around their yard once a week, tip anything holding water," says Harrison. "It does not take much water to breed this mosquito. I’ve found them in coke cans with a few ounces of water.”
Also, whether traveling abroad or anywhere in the United States, health officials urge people to use a repellent with at least 30 percent DEET, wear socks, long sleeved shirts, pants and shoes when outside. Also, if you develop a fever and severe aching people are urged to see a doctor.