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Chikungunya Virus In Indiana

Jun 09, 2014 05:15 PM EDT
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A resident of Allen County, Indiana has tested positive for chikungunya - a debilitating mosquito borne virus that is sweeping across the southern hemisphere. This marks the first case of the virus for the state.

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) announced late Sunday night that lab testing had confirmed a suspected case of chikungunya virus in one Allen County resident.

The virus, although not often fatal, can be very debilitating, causing joint pain, joint swelling, fever, and exhaustion that can last up to two weeks, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

There currently is no vaccine or cure for chikungunya, which is spread exclusively through mosquito bite.

According Jennifer Brown, Indiana State Public Health Seminarian for the ISDH, this isolated case of the virus was likely imported. An investigation had revealed that the patient had recently traveled to the Caribbean, which has seen more than 65,000 suspected and confirmed cases so far.

"We expected the epidemic in the Caribbean to cause some travel-related cases here in Indiana," said  Brown in a recent statement. "We encourage all [residents] to take precautions against mosquito bites at home and while traveling."

This is the first case of the new and prevalent virus for Indiana, as it has largely only been seen in isolated cases in Florida, which is currently beset with the possibility of picking up two new and dangerous mosquito-borne illnesses, one of which can be deadly.

The ISDH has begun urging Hoosiers - residents of the state - to take a number of actions to reduce the number of still water breeding spots available for mosquito populations.

Old tires, tin cans, containers and pots, should be discarded. The repair of septic tanks and clogged gutters is also encouraged, along with the periodic flushing of ornamental bird baths and fountains.

"Chikungunya is just another example of the dangers posed by disease-carrying mosquitoes," said Allen County Health Commissioner Deborah McMahan. "Whether you are planning a trip to the Caribbean or a picnic in your own backyard, please remember your best defense is to wear insect repellent and stay inside as much as possible during peak biting times."

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