Mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus bites Iowa

Nick Fetty | September 4, 2014
Infected mosquitoes can transmit the Chikungunya virus to humans (Gustavo Fernando Durán/Flickr)
Infected mosquitoes can transmit the Chikungunya virus to humans. (Gustavo Fernando Durán/Flickr)

The Iowa Department of Public Health has reported the state’s first case of the Chikungunya (pronunciation: chik-en-gun-ye) virus, which is spread by infected mosquitoes.

A central Iowa man was diagnosed with the virus after a recent trip to the Caribbean. The man’s name and hometown were not made public but he is between the ages of 18 and 40. Health officials said the man was not hospitalized and is recovering. Common symptoms of the Chikungunya virus include fever as well as joint pain. Headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and rashes may also occur. While the virus generally isn’t fatal, scientists have recently taken the first steps in developing a vaccine.

Before this most recent case, Iowa was one of just six states without any reported cases. Nearly 700 cases of Chikungunya have been reported in the United States so far this year. The majority of those cases reported were people returning from areas in the Caribbean and South America.

The Chikungunya virus was first reported in Tanzania in the 1950s. The virus was mostly contained in Africa and Asia for more than half a century before the first reported case in the Americas was found on a Caribbean island in late 2013. The “first locally acquired case” was reported in Florida on July 17 of this year.

Iowa health officials caution that September and October are the most active months for mosquitoes carrying the potentially lethal West Nile virus of which seven cases have been reported this year.

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