Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Virus Spreading In U.S., Even In Our Area

First it was West Nile.  Then the Swine Flu.  Now it's Chikungunya, a painful virus spread by mosquitos, that is being reported across the country.

Nebraska reported its first case in June.

The Centers for Disease Control has listed a total of 497 cases in the U.S. in 35 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, 197 locally transmitted. reports that other state and local health agencies noted 40 cases, bringing the total to 537.

Nebraska's chief medical officer, Dr. Joseph Acierno, says the disease is fairly uncommon in the United States but will likely increase in the coming years. Deaths from the virus are rare, but the pain can be severe and debilitating.

DHHS says outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Europe, Asia and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says no mosquitoes that carry the virus have been found in the United States.

The disease is spread through mosquito bites, usually aedes species mosquitoes, which bite mostly in the daytime.  Chikungunya, discovered in Africa 60 years ago, can't spread human to human. The best way to ward off the disease is to take precautions against mosquito bites-wear repellent with DEET, dress in light-colored long sleeves and pants when venturing outdoors, drain any standing water around the house, and try to stay inside at dusk and dawn, when mosquitos are out buzzing the most.

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