Four cases of Chikungunya in Alabama : Dept. of Public Health announcement

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) –  A painful infection that is spread by mosquitoes has landed in the Birmingham area. Now a growing number of residents are worried about the Chikungunya virus.

“Well I guess it is, it’s something serious,” said Gregory Coleman in Birmingham.

“Anything is possible. Especially when you have people that are doing a lot of traveling, going overseas, taking cruises- you do worry about people bringing it back over here,” said Latrice Heard in Homewood.

According to the CDC the virus is rarely fatal and is often accompanied by fever and joint pain.

Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. There is no medicine to treat the infection.

Doctor Jordan Vaughn of MedHelp 280 says the fever is short lived, but intense. Vaughn says the joint pain that follows can be excruciating.

“This one is going to be very high — 103, 104 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Jordan F. Vaughn, MD, MedHelp 280.

“And that’s a real big thing to look out for so first of all if you’ve recently traveled or, or were outside and then had a very rapidly developing high fever around that time that’s probably the thing that you need to seek medical care for.”

“In this one case it causes a high fever and then the fever itself abruptly ends and then you have terrible muscle aches, and joint pains and actually that’s where the name comes from,” said Vaughn. “This one illness in particular is a lot better than dengue actually or the West Nile in terms of mosquito borne illnesses because usually there’s a very, very low mortality rate.”

At this point all of the people in the United States who have contracted the virus, contracted it outside the contiguous U.S. according to the Jefferson County Health Department.

Dr. Edward Khan says Chikungunya hasn’t taken hold in the native mosquito population, at least not yet.

“If enough cases got up and the mosquito population got infected that, that is a possibility. Again it hasn’t been observed, but they are watching very closely for that,” said Khan.

Of the four preliminary cases which had been identified Tuesday, Dr. Khan said one was in Jefferson County, one was in Tuscaloosa, and two were in North Alabama.

“All four of them were travelers abroad. In fact they were all travelers to Caribbean Islands and then they came here back to Alabama where they presented with symptoms to local health care providers,” said Khan.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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