Mosquito-carried virus Chikungunya arrives

Thursday, July 24, 2014
By Paul Martin

Wednesday , July 23, 2014

A mosquito-borne virus with the tongue-twisting name chikungunya has arrived on U.S. soil, infecting people in 31 states so far.

While the virus hasn’t arrived in Utah as of yet, it’s close to our doorstep. Both Idaho and Nevada have reported cases of the illness. While most cases are contracted by people traveling outside of the U.S., for the first time, two Floridians were infected domestically this week, health authorities said.

The virus here is spread through a variety of mosquitoes called Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus, said Weber-Morgan Health Department public relations director Lori Buttars. Unlike West Nile virus, these mosquitoes are daytime biters.

The chikungunya virus won’t likely kill you, but you won’t forget having it, either, say health officials. The name comes from a Makonde word meaning ‘that which bends up,’ referring to the contortions sufferers put themselves through due to the debilitating joint pain is causes throughout the body. Other symptoms include rapid onset of fever, headache and possible rash. Symptoms appear three to seven days after a person is bitten by the mosquito.

“Chikungunya fever does not often result in death; however, some individuals may experience persistent joint pain,” said Rebecca Ward, health educator at the Utah Department of Health. “There is currently no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya fever.”

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