Breaking news: Chikungunya case confirmed in Tarrant County
Symptoms to look for in children
The first case of chikungunya, a viral disease that can cause fever and severe joint pain and is spread to people by mosquitoes, has been reported in Tarrant County.
Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) confirmed the first imported case of chikungunya as a Mansfield, Texas, resident, who contracted the disease while in the Caribbean and was diagnosed by doctors upon returning home. Additional details are not being released to protect the identity of the patient.
This is the first imported case of chikungunya virus disease reported in Tarrant County – and the 13th in Texas. To date, local spread of the virus has been reported in Florida, but no other states.
Tarrant County Public Health stated that imported cases could make local spread possible because the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit the virus are found in Texas.
Aedes mosquitoes are active and bite during the day the TCPH said, so it’s important for people to protect themselves against mosquitoes at all times.
Because symptoms are similar, TCPH encourages physicians to consider both chikungunya and dengue infection in patients with acute onset of fever and joint pain - and patients who have recently visited areas where at least one of the viruses is present.
Donald Murphey, M.D., medical director of Infectious Disease at Cook Children's, stresses that all cases of chikungunya in the United States have been a result of people traveling outside of the country and returning home. No one has become infected by the virus without leaving U.S. The World Health Organization reports 350,580 suspected cases of the viral infection in the United States.
While infections are rarely fatal, chikungunya can be quite painful; especially for children. Children are impacted more severely.
- Children have a greater chance for rashes and joint pain can be quite painful.
- Babies’ only symptoms may be a rash and fever.
- Older children may complain of aching in their head or joints. Often times, nausea accompanies an infection.
If you notice these symptoms, please contact your pediatrician. A cure for chikungunya doesn’t exist, but a doctor may be help to ease the symptoms.
Symptoms usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by a mosquito. There is no vaccine or treatment for the virus. Most people feel better within a week, though some people may develop longer-term joint pain.
Chikungunya is not transmitted from direct person to person contact. Instead a person with the disease can be the source of the virus for mosquitoes to bite someone else and spread it. To prevent the spread of the disease, people with chikungunya illness should be especially careful to avoid exposure to mosquitoes during the first week of illness.
DSHS encourages people to protect themselves from mosquito bites at home and while traveling. The Aedes mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya are active and bite during the day. Precautions include:
- Use an approved insect repellent every time you go outside, and follow label instructions.
- Drain standing water where mosquitoes can breed.
- Wear long sleeves and pants when outside.
- Use air conditioning or make sure doors and windows are screened to keep mosquitoes outside.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with recent outbreaks in the Caribbean and the Pacific, the number of chikungunya cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States from affected areas will likely increase. Cases have occurred in Africa, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.