Chikungunya Virus Moves Into US

Florida sees first locally-acquired cases

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 18, 2014 11:58 AM CDT | Updated Jul 18, 2014 12:20 PM CDT

(Newser) – It's official: Chikungunya has come to the US. In the likely event you haven't heard of it, Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne disease that causes severe (though only occasionally fatal) fevers, joint pain, and swelling, Health Day explains. There are no treatments for it save rest and painkillers. It's common in parts of Africa and Asia, and now health experts say a man and woman in Florida have contracted the disease, and neither has traveled recently, making them the first locally-acquired cases, NBC News reports.

Health experts had long predicted that Chikungunya would make its way here—it's already hit at least 17 countries in the Caribbean since arriving in the Western Hemisphere in December, according to the CDC. The US has had an average of 28 cases per year since 2006, but all of those were in travelers returning from countries where Chikungunya is common. These new cases represent evidence that US mosquitoes are carrying the disease. "It was just a matter of when," the chair of the Florida Keys Mosquito Control Board tells CNN. "From what I am seeing, I'm sure there are more cases out there that we don't know about."

In this Aug. 16, 2012, file photo, mosquitos are sorted at the Dallas County mosquito lab in Dallas.   (AP Photo/LM Otero, File)
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