Bad news for Texas, the USA and the rest of the world – the Texas Department of State Health Services has just confirmed the first case of Chikungunya in the north of Austin area, more exactly in Williamson County. This comes after only one week after the first case of the West Nile virus of the season was discovered in Travis County. The patient is a man who has just returned in the States after a visit to the Caribbean, where the disease appeared in 2013.
Chikungunya is a disease cause by virus; it has an incubation period of one to twelve days, but typically three. The disease is rarely fatal and the common symptoms are: high fever, rash on the body (more commonly on the legs) and arthritis that affects various joints. Other symptoms include headache, conjunctivitis, vomiting, nausea, photophobia and partial loss of taste. The fever usually lasts for two days, but other symptoms are known to last longer; for example, joint pain has been reported to last for months and even years.
Children recover in two weeks from Chikungunya, middle-aged patients recover in a month or two and the period is much longer for the elder. The disease does not spread between humans and it is only transmitted when an infected mosquito bites a human.
Other 27 states have already confirmed cases of this infectious disease with the most confirmed cases come from Florida. The officials believe the riskiest part is the SE of the United States of America and the only way to avoid getting this disease is to avoid getting bitten by mosquitos. At the moment, there is no available vaccine against Chikungunya.
To prevent the spread of this disease, people are urged to use mosquito repellents every time they leave the house (DEET based but also natural repellents) and avoid spending time outside in the evening, when the mosquitos are active. Also, wear long sleeves and pants when going outside and don’t drain any puddles of water around the house, because mosquitos require water to breed.
According to the CDCP the number of cases of Chikungunya is likely to increase, which could mean a potential epidemic. What are your thoughts on this matter? Are you scared of this new disease? Do you think it will escalate into an epidemic? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.