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Health Officials Confirm First Case Of Chikungunya In Tennessee

Health Officials Confirm First Case Of Chikungunya In Tennessee

CREATED Jun 13, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Department of Health announced it’s confirmed the first case of chikungunya in Tennessee.

Chikungunya is a virus carried by mosquitoes, and it originates from the Caribbean.

Test results from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a resident of Madison County in west Tennessee tested positive for the virus. Several Tennesseans have been tested after showing symptoms of the illness.

At this time, people most at risk are those returning from travel to the Caribbean. Chikungunya is widespread there with more than 100,000 suspected cases reported. There is no evidence so far of transmission of chikungunya in Tennessee.

Chikungunya is transmitted by daytime- biting mosquitoes. Symptoms include sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, nausea, sensitivity to light, vomiting, rash and severe joint pain. Fever and joint pain are the most common symptoms, and most infected people feel better within a week.

In some, the joint pain may persist for months. Symptoms of chikungunya are similar to those of another disease spread by mosquitoes recently seen in the United States called dengue.

If you show any of these symptoms contact your doctor and let them know if you have recently traveled abroad.

People at risk for more serious effects from chikungunya include newborns, those over age 65 and those with health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.

While there is no medicine to treat or cure the infection, rest, fluids to prevent dehydration and medicines like acetaminophen to relieve fever and pain are helpful.

Fortunately, once a person has been infected with chikungunya, they are likely to be protected from future infections, and the disease rarely results in death.

The Tennessee Department of Health offers these recommendations for preventing mosquito bites:

• Chikungunya is spread by Aedes mosquitoes, which feed during the day as well as at dawn and dusk, so take precautions to prevent bites any time you are outside.

• Use insect repellants such as DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 on your skin, following all label recommendations for usage. Pay particular attention to recommendations for use on children and never apply any of these products around the mouth or eyes at any age. Consult your health care provider if you have questions.

• Certain products containing permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets and camping gear. Permethrin-treated clothing repels and kills mosquitoes and other pests and retains this effect after repeated laundering. Permethrin is not to be used directly on skin.

• Do not use perfume, cologne or other scented products such as deodorant, soap or lotion if you’re going outside, as fragrances may attract mosquitoes.

• Remember “long, loose and light” when selecting outdoor wear. Long-sleeved shirts and long pants are best, and for improved effectiveness, tuck pants into your socks and your shirt into your pants to form bug barriers. Wear loose-fitting clothing to prevent bites through the fabric. Light-colored clothes are less attractive to many insects and may allow you to spot them more easily.

• Eliminate standing water near your home, which can serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Many containers, even those as small as a bottle cap, can hold enough water for mosquitoes to breed.

• Keep wading pools empty when not in use and store them on their sides. Replace water in bird baths weekly and don’t allow water to stand in buckets or barrels. If you have a rain collection barrel, make sure it has a tight-fitting screen on the top.

• Keep windows and doors closed or cover with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home.

For more information about the chikungunya virus, go to www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/.