The Pryor Times

Health

July 6, 2014

Case of chikungunya confirmed in Oklahoma

Pryor Times — An Oklahoma resident, who recently traveled out of the country, has tested positive for the chikungunya virus. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. Currently, chikungunya is not indigenous to Oklahoma nor the continental United States, meaning persons cannot acquire the disease while in the U.S. The disease is occurring in the Caribbean islands, South America, Africa, and Southeast Asia. Travelers to those regions should take extra precautions to protect themsevles from mosquito bites, says the Mayes County Health Department.

“We are advising travelers to affected areas to be very vigilant about the regular use of mosquito prevention, including using repellent containing DEET, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long slacks to limit the amount of exposed skin, and ensuring that residence have screen windows or mosquito nets are used around beds,” said Mayes County Health Department Regional Director Maria Alexander.

Unlike West Nile Virus infection, chikungunya can be transmitted from a sick person to a healthy person by the bite of an infected mosquito. Infected persons are advised to avoid exposure to mosquitoes during the first week of illness. Chikungunya is not transmitted directly from one person to another through contact.

Persons developing symptoms of chikungunya, such as a high fever, joint pain and body ahces within seven days after returning from an area iwth chikungunya, should voluntarily isolate themselves indoors for seven days after symptoms begin to avoid contact with native mosquitoes. This action will reduce the risk of introducing the chikungunya virus into Oklahoma’s native mosquito population, to help prevent locally-acquired disease.

Chikungunya does not often cause deathm but the symptoms can be severe. While the most common symptoms are high fever and severe pain in multiple joints, other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash. Most patients feel better within one week, but the joint pain can persist for months to years in some cases.

People at risk for more severe disease include newborn infants, adults over age 65, and peple with medical conditions that may compromise the immune system such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart dsease, HIV, or cancer. There is no specific treatment for Chikungunya Fever. Treatment consists of supportive care for relief of fever and joint pain. Currently, there is no vaccine available that protects against this virus.

For more information visit www.health.ok.gov and click on “Mosquito and Tickborne Diseases” then scroll down to the chikungunya link.

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