U.S. News


Chikungunya Virus Contracted In U.S. For First Time

Chikungunya's been found in two people in Florida who contracted it locally; the virus is spread through mosquitos and causes severe pain.
Posted at 9:26 AM, Jul 18, 2014

No, we're not here to talk to you about dino DNA or West Nile. "Chikungunya" is loosely translated to "contorted with pain" — and it's also the name of a virus that's now being spread in the U.S. (Getty Images)

"Tonight the state department is confirming the first locally acquired cases of chikungunya fever. One in Palm Beach County, a second in Miami Dade county. The disease is spread through the bite of a mosquito." 

Dozens of cases have been reported in Florida this year, but all were contracted outside the U.S. Now, a man and a woman have contracted chikungunya locally. So, what does it mean for them? According to the World Health Organization...

-Chikungunya causes fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, rash and more

-"Since 2004, chikungunya fever has reached epidemic proportions, with considerable morbidity and suffering."

-No cure, symptoms are just treated

The CDC notes the disease has made its way to the U.S. just seven months after it was recognized in the Western Hemisphere.

But, some good news...

-Infection is rarely fatal, though pain can be "severe and debiilitating"

-The virus is not spread person to person

-"Infection is thought to provide lifelong immunity."

"The individuals who could have more concern are the very young, newborns, and of course the elderly, over 65."

It's unclear how quickly the virus might spread in the U.S., but in June NBC's senior health writer reported it was spreading "rapidly" through the Caribbean.

​Though she later added that strain of the disease only spreads through one type of mosquito, and that type of mosquito is only found in the Southern U.S. (Via NBC)

As CBS notes, the CDC and other health agencies had issues travel warnings for several popular vacation destinations over the past few months because of the virus.

But, that's a bit of a moot point now. The CDC advises seeking medical care right away if you show symptoms of chikungunya.