The Centers for Disease Control released the latest count of chikungunya cases in the United States on June 10. The Centers have received reports of 39 illnesses due to this mosquito transmitted virus. The only locally acquired case is in Puerto Rico. The Virgin Islands have reported an imported case and the remaining 37 imported cases are from ten states in the continental U.S.
In addition to the 37 cases reported to the CDC from the continental U.S., Florida is reporting two more new cases. Indiana and Mississippi have also reported one new case each. One case, in Rhode Island, is suspected and the patient is waiting on test results from the CDC, as she advised me on Twitter.
The Tennessee Department of Health announced on June 10 that it is investigating a number of suspected chikungunya illnesses in the state in travelers who have been to the Caribbean recently. None are believed to have been acquired locally.
Illnesses caused by the chikungunya virus resemble dengue fever. The virus is transmitted from person to person through the bite of an infected mosquito. The vector for the current Caribbean outbreak of the disease is the Aedes aegypti or Yellow Fever mosquito.
According to the CDC, the primary symptoms of a chikungunya infection are fever and joint pain. The fever can be quite high, and accompanied by chills. The joint pain may range from mild to debilitating. Patients are often unable to get out of bed due to the pain.
Along with the fever, many patients have a headache. The joint pain may be accompanied by muscle pain and joint swelling. Many patients develop an all-over, itching rash.
There is no cure for the illness. While several vaccines are in trials, none have yet been approved for use. The illness is rarely fatal but infants and the elderly may experience a more severe sickness. Large numbers of patients studied from previous outbreaks have reported continuing or relapsing pain after recovering for as long as five years.