Mosquito-Borne Disease Hits US Mainland - The Jewish Voice
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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Mosquito-Borne Disease Hits US Mainland

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A female Aedes aegypti mosquito while she in the process of acquiring a blood meal from her human host. (Photo Credit: James Gathany)
A female Aedes aegypti mosquito while she in the process of acquiring a blood meal from her human host. (Photo Credit: James Gathany)
The first locally acquired case of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease, was reported July 17 in Florida. This newly reported case represents the first time that mosquitoes in the continental United States are thought to have spread the virus to a non-traveler. Although CDC does not expect widespread cases of chikungunya in the United States this summer, American travelers infected overseas may continue to return and bring the virus with them.

Chikungunya virus is transmitted to people by two species of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Both species are found in the southeastern United States and limited parts of the Southwest; Aedes albopictus is also found further north up the East Coast, through the Mid-Atlantic States, and is also found in the lower Midwest.

People infected with chikungunya virus typically develop fever and joint pain. Other symptoms can include muscle aches, headaches, joint swelling or rash. This virus is not spread person to person. There is no vaccine and no specific treatment for infection.

The best way to protect yourself and your family from chikungunya is to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes by using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, using air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside, and reducing mosquito breeding ground such as standing water.

Spokespeople for the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at NCEZID have much to say on the issue.

“Chikungunya has been on the U.S. public health radar for some time. CDC has been working with the Pan American Health Organization since 2006, preparing for its introduction. We are working with international public health partners and with state health departments to alert health care providers and the public about this disease, equip state health laboratories to test for it and to detect cases to help prevent further spread.”- Lyle R. Petersen, MD, MPH – Director, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, NCEZID

“The arrival of chikungunya virus in the tropical Americas and now in the United States underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens. This emphasizes the importance of CDC’s health security initiatives designed to maintain effective surveillance networks, diagnostic laboratories and mosquito control programs both in the U.S. and around the globe.” – Roger S. Nasci, PhD – Chief, Arboviral Disease Branch, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, NCEZID

“The two species of Aedes mosquitoes that spread chikungunya are found in the southern and eastern United States. It is difficult to predict how the disease will spread in the mainland U.S., but we predict small, focal outbreaks, similar to pockets of dengue fever infections that have occurred previously in Florida and Texas. We’re asking health care providers to really be on the lookout for people who have traveled to areas where chikungunya virus is already transmitted and to consider it as a diagnosis when patients present with fever and joint pain.” -Erin Staples, MD, PhD – Medical Epidemiologist, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, NCEZIDs

“Many U.S. travelers visit countries where chikungunya virus is found therefore, we expected that chikungunya would not be restricted to regions south of the continental United States. The more American tourists return home from these areas with chikungunya virus in their blood, the higher the risk of outbreaks here.” – Ann Powers, PhD – Chief, Alphavirus Laboratory, Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, NCEZID

CDC is currently working with the Florida Department of Health to assess whether there are additional locally acquired cases and is providing consultation on ways to prevent further spread of the virus by controlling mosquitoes and educating people about personal and household protection measures to avoid mosquito bites. Learn more about Chikungunya in the United States.


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