By Andy Tofilon
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that the first case of locally acquired mosquito-borne chikungunya virus in the United States has been confirmed in a Florida man. This case represents the first time that mosquitoes in the continental United States are thought to have spread the virus to a nontraveler, the CDC said in a statement.
The chikungunya virus is transmitted to people by 2 species of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Both species are found in the southeastern United States and limited parts of the southwest; Aedes albopictus is also found further north up the East Coast, through the mid-Atlantic states, and is also found in the lower Midwest, the CDC said.
Since 2006, the US has averaged 28 imported cases of chikungunya per year in travelers returning from countries where the virus is common.To date this year, 243 travel-associated cases have been reported in 31 states and 2 US territories in the Caribbean Sea.
According to the report, CDC officials believe chikungunya "will behave like dengue virus in the United States, where imported cases have resulted in sporadic local transmission but have not caused widespread outbreaks," the statement said. "None of the more than 200 imported chikungunya cases between 2006 and 2013 have triggered a local outbreak. However, more chikungunya-infected travelers coming into the United States increases the likelihood that local chikungunya transmission will occur."
For more information on the chikungunya virus, including symptoms and treatment options, read Mayo Medical Laboratories' recent Hot Topic.