The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has identified the state’s first two cases of travel-associated chikungunya virus. The patients, both of whom are adults from Sedgwick County, reported recent, but separate, travel to the Caribbean.
“Chikungunya virus can be a serious and debilitating disease, and we want travelers to be aware,” said KDHE Secretary Dr. Robert Moser. “It is important for persons traveling to countries where chikungunya virus infections are currently reported to take appropriate precautions to prevent exposures to mosquito bites.”
Outbreaks of chikungunya virus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Chikungunya (pronunciation: chik-en-gun-ye) was first established in the western hemisphere on St. Maarten, an island in the Caribbean, in December 2013. Additional cases have been identified in 19 countries throughout the Caribbean.
Cases in the United States among travelers returning from these countries have been identified in several states. No local transmission has been identified in the U.S. mainland. Local transmission occurs when mosquitoes in the area have been infected and are spreading it to people.
However, the mosquitoes that most commonly transmit chikungunya virus – Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus – have both been identified in the United States, including in Kansas. There is growing concern among public health officials that chikungunya virus could become established in local mosquito populations and pose additional risks to people.
Infection with chikungunya virus is rarely fatal, but symptoms can be severe. Most people who become infected will have fever and joint pain. Other symptoms include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.
To prevent mosquito bites, KDHE and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend people:
• Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
• Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots, buckets or old tires.
• Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants when weather permits.
• Use insect repellents. Those that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long-lasting protection.
Story from Kansas Health Institute News Service