First case of mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus reported in Alabama

First case of mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus reported in Alabama

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - The first reported case of Chikungunya has been confirmed in Alabama by state health officials.

A Huntsville area woman contracted the illness while in Haiti for a work related trip and has since completely recovered from the disease.

And although the name might sound scary, experts say Chikungunya should not cause any public concern.

"It's a mosquito borne illness that we've seen in this part of the world since about 2013 and its started emerging in the Caribbean," explains the Manager of Infection Prevention at the East Alabama Medical Center, Brooke Bailey.

Symptoms from Chikungunya can include fever and joint pain.

The virus has now been reported in Georgia, Tennessee, Florida as well as Alabama.

The disease originated in Africa and Asia before being transported to the Caribbean.

All reported cases in the United States have been discovered to be imported.

"It cannot be spread from person to person. A mosquito has to actually bite someone who is infected and then the mosquito can actually bite another person. Its transmitted by mosquitoes so you or I couldn't transmit it to each other," says Bailey.

There is no vaccine or medication to prevent Chikungunya.

If you do contract the disease, symptoms usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

To avoid contracting this disease, use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, stay in places with air conditioning, and avoid standing water, especially when traveling.

"You just have to let it go its course and actually treat the symptoms," explains Bailey.

According to reports, the Huntsville woman went to a doctor in Mississippi and did not return to Alabama until the virus was out of her system.

Death is rare of Chikungunya, but people can develop longer-term joint pain if the disease is contracted.

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