Officials investigating Chikungunya virus

Cameron County health officials report they have been investigating a probable case of Chikungunya virus infection.

The case was first presented at a doctor’s office in November 2015 and tested in January of this year, officials said. It was not reported to the Cameron County Department of Health and Human Services until April.

According to health officials, the case was acquired locally and is being considered the first locally acquired probable case of Chikungunya in Texas.

Chikungunya virus is transmitted to people through mosquito bites and cannot be spread from one person to another person. The most common symptoms of Chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Should anyone experience any of these symptoms, a visit to the health care provider should be scheduled.

“While this is the first reported locally acquired probable case of Chikungunya, the overall risk of being infected with Chikungunya virus in South Texas is very low and we have no additional evidence that the virus is circulating in the local mosquito population,” stated James W. Castillo, Cameron County Health Authority. “A critical key point to also remember here is the importance of physicians reporting these conditions. It would have allowed us to work with our local municipalities to assess the mosquito issue and appropriately respond.”

Residents are also being reminded to take preventive measures by practicing the following:

– Apply mosquito repellent that contains DEET (N, N-diethyl-m- toluamide), picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Spray exposed skin and clothing with repellent. Another option is to use permethrin , which should be applied to clothing. Be sure to read label instructions on any repellent.

– Dress protectively by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks, and shoes when you are outside.

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