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First confirmed case of chikungunya in America


We've heard the warnings about West Nile virus, but you may not have heard as much about the mosquito born disease chikungunya. That's because it hasn't been in the U. S., at least until now.

Thursday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that the first case of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus in the US has been confirmed in a person in Florida.

It's in a man who apparently had not traveled out of the country recently, and it's not clear how he became infected.

"The arrival of chikungunya virus, first in the tropical Americas and now in the U.S. underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens," said Roger Nasci, the head of CDC's Arboviral Diseases Branch.

There have been cases in several U.S. states and territories, but until Thursday all those cases involved people who had traveled abroad to one of the affected areas. In Puerto Rico, authorities Thursday declared a chikungunya epidemic on the island, given the rapid spread of the virus which, so far, has been confirmed in 206 people.

The virus, which produces symptoms similar to those of dengue, is transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito.

The CDC says, 243 cases have been registered in 31 US states and territories among people who have traveled abroad so far this year, compared with an average of 28 cases per year registered since 2006.

There is no vaccine and no treatment for the chikungunya virus. The symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache and aching joints, nausea and skin rash, all of which generally appear between three and seven days after a victim is bitten by a carrier mosquito and can last for up to three months.

Fortunately the disease is rarely fatal.

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