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Chikungunya Virus Gaining Ground in United States

chikungunya, mosquito, bite, virus, diseaseThe mosquito-borne virus that causes severe joint pain, but is often not fatal, has been finding more American victims.

The chikungunya virus has been spreading in recent months and has claimed a quarter million victims in the Caribbean, Central and South America since late 2013.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a count this week of 400 cases in the United States, however the overwhelming majority of patients are travelers from overseas.

“With the recent outbreaks in the Caribbean and the Pacific, the number of chikungunya cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States from affected areas will continue to increase,” the CDC said to USA Today.

The disease is spread by bites from infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, and it is not contagious. Here are the latest numbers:

  • The number of cases in New Jersey more than doubled to 25.
  • New York has recorded 44 cases so far.
  • Florida leads among states, with 107 cases.
  •  Puerto Rico has 215 cases diagnosed, of which 199 were contracted locally. ( Cases from the island were not added to the CDC count.)
  • Other states, such as Maine and Missouri, reported their first cases of the disease this week.
  • Two of the overall cases were contracted within the continental United States.

There is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya.

The best way to prevent infection is with diligent use of insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants when outdoors, securing screens on windows or mosquito nets while sleeping, and reducing standing water that is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.

S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, http://Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at http://www.TheReporterandTheGirl.com

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