Burlington, N.C. – North Carolina’s second case of chikungunya was confirmed Tuesday, June 24 in an Alamance County resident who recently traveled to the Caribbean. At the time the individual returned to NC, they were symptomatic but no longer had the virus in their blood and could not spread virus to mosquitos in the community. The NC Division of Public Health and Alamance County Health Department have determined that there is no known risk of transmission of the virus to the local mosquito population. At this time, all cases of chikungunya in NC have been travel-associated and no cases have been locally-transmitted.
Chikungunya is a virus that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus is not spread from human to human. The Asian Tiger mosquito that is commonly found in North Carolina could effectively transmit this virus. Symptoms of chikungunya usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms typically include the sudden onset of fever and severe, often disabling, joint pains in the hands and feet. Many patients feel better within a week; however, the joint pain may persist for months in some people. Newborns exposed during delivery, adults over 65 and people with chronic medical conditions have a greater risk for a severe form of the disease.
“After reviewing this case, we do not feel any one in Alamance County is at risk because the time period in which mosquitos could have been infected was over,” states Interim Health Director Stacie Saunders. “Right now, we want those traveling to the Caribbean or other affected areas to be aware of the virus and to protect themselves against mosquito bites.”
NC DHHS’ Division of Public Health advises persons traveling to countries where chikungunya transmission is occurring to take personal precautions to prevent mosquito bites and immediately consult a medical provider if they develop a fever in the two weeks after their return home.
To protect yourself and your family against mosquito bites:
- Wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeve shirts.
- Reduce time spent outdoors, particularly during early morning and early evening hours when mosquitoes are most active.
- Apply EPA-approved mosquito repellents such as DEET, picardin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 to exposed skin areas.
- Always follow guidelines when using mosquito repellent.
- Since mosquitos may bite through thin clothing, spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection.
DHHS’ Division of Public Health strongly recommends that all North Carolina residents take measures to decrease environmental conditions favorable to breeding for the species that could transmit this infection, the Asian Tiger mosquito. This mosquito is an aggressive daytime biter, breeds in small water containers and does not travel long distances. To reduce mosquito breeding areas around your home, Alamance County Environmental Health Director Carl Carroll suggests removing any containers that can hold water, change water in bird baths and pet bowls frequently, cover rain barrels with lids, check that gutters are clean and in good shape, and check screened windows and doors for tears.
To learn more about chikungunya virus, please see attached Frequently Asked Questions on Chikungunya from NC DHHS or visit: http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/. To view map and list of countries where chikungunya has been reported, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/pdfs/ChikungunyaMap.pdf