Chikungunya virus confirmed in Texas, health officials warn to avoid mosquito bites

(ABC) - On Monday, Texas health officials confirmed the state’s first case of Chikungunya, while officials in Boston said that they had four cases over the weekend.

So far, this nasty virus has been brought to the U.S. by infected travelers who had recently been to the Caribbean. Now, it has spread to 27 states.

“There is no medicine you can take to prevent it, there's no vaccine, but what you can do is and try and avoid mosquito bites,” says ABC’s Chief Health and Medical Editor, Dr. Richard Besser.

This tropical virus is rarely fatal, but the symptoms are terrible: fever, headache, vomiting, rashes, and joint pain that could last for months. The symptoms kick in about three to seven days after the mosquito bite, and last about a week.

Ashley Manning of Georgia went on a mission to Haiti in early June. She got her malaria shots and used mosquito repellant with DEET, but said she didn’t realize she was at high risk.

She got bitten by an infected mosquito, and within days of arriving home, she started experiencing painful symptoms”

“My joints were hurting really bad, I was getting really out of breath and having a fever…really dizzy and kind of out of it.”

Health officials say that the biggest risk here is in the Southeastern U.S., as most cases have been confirmed in Florida. But since it is only spread by a bite from an infected mosquito, they say that protecting yourself is easy.

“Using mosquito repellent, repairing your screen so that mosquitoes are not coming in your house, and getting rid of free standing water,” Says Dr. Besser.

Health officials say the biggest worry is that instead of this being a disease a traveler picks up and brings back to the U.S., the mosquitoes here begin to transmit it themselves.