First Kentuckian gets Caribbean virus, chikungunya or CHIK-V

State officials have confirmed Kentucky’s first case of the Caribbean virus chikungunya—or CHIK-V. The first case is an Anderson County man who recently went to Haiti. Though CHIK-V is not native to Kentucky and doesn’t usually result in death, officials encourage those who have recently visited the Caribbean and who may be experiencing symptoms to visit the doctor to make sure they don’t have the disease, Josh James reports for WUKY-FM.


The mosquito-borne disease occurs most often in Africa, East Asia and the Caribbean islands, but the federal Centers for Disease Control has been observing the spread of the virus hoping that it won’t become a significant issue in the United States like the West Nile did more than 10 years ago, Val Willingham reports for CNN. Several weeks ago, the number of cases in the Caribbean exceeded 170,000, and the number of deaths from the disease was 14, Lisa Schnirring reports for Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. 


The disease can cause joint pain and arthritis-like symptoms, and those with weak immune systems are especially at risk for worse symptoms. The disease is transmitted from mosquito to human and from human to mosquito. Though about 25 to 28 travelers bring CHIK-V to the U.S. every year, “We haven’t had any locally transmitted cases in the U.S. thus far,” said Roger Nasci, chief of the CDC’s Arboviral Disease Branch in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases.


“Someone would have to be bitten by an infected insect to become ill. Person to person contact does not spread the disease,” Kevin Hall of the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department said, James writes. However, it’s worth noting that Kentucky is “home to both species of mosquito known to carry the virus,” James reports.
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