First Chikungunya Case Found in Texas

First Chikungunya Case Found in Texas

 by Kim Powell

NewsWest 9

ODESSA - With the temperatures rising and the beach calling our names, many are heading to tropical paradises. But with all that fantasizing about tanning by the ocean, some forget about the many dangers of travelling abroad, particularly transmitted diseases from bugs.

"Chikungunya virus is a tropical viral illness spread by mosquitoes," explains Dr. Jeff Pinnow from Medical Center Health.

The first case of Chikungunya has made its way to Texas after one resident from Williamson County, near Austin, recently visited the Caribbean, where the virus is spreading. There have been more than 300,000 cases reported on the island, and more than 42,000 just last week.

"I think if a person is traveling to a tropical area, even as close Mexico or the Caribbean, they should just wear mosquito repellent," said Dr. Pinnow.

The primary symptoms of the virus are fever and severe body aches and should go away within five to seven days.

However, once Chikungunya has found its way to the states, it's possible it can spread and become an outbreak.

"Somebody has to travel to an endemic area and be bitten by a mosquito and then they have to develop an illness and come back to the states, and once again be bitten by another mosquito in order for the illness to be transmitted," said Dr. Pinnow.

Despite the growing number of cases, and travelers coming back and forth, Dr. Pinnow isn't too concerned about Chikungunya.

"The biggest concern is that if this virus was to become widespread and people may become paranoid about it and may end up coming to your local ER when it's not necessarily needed," said Dr. Pinnow.