Watch Out for Chikungunya

Knoxville news was highlighting the other day that our health officials were warning our East Tennessee residents, that might be trying to escape to some warm weather in the Caribbean & Florida, to take precautions against chikungunya disease. Chickungunya is spread through mosquitoes and emerges out of the Caribbean. Cases have been showing up across the United States in the last year.

Knox Health Officials Warn Travelers About Chikungunya

If your travel plans for this year will take you to the Caribbean, the Knox County Health Department wants to remind you to be aware of take precautions against the chikungunya virus.

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. It causes flu-like symptoms, like fever and joint pain, and while usually not fatal, the symptoms can be severe.

People at increased risk for severe disease include newborns exposed during delivery, those 65 years of age and older, and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. Deaths are rare, and most patients feel better within a week.

“As with any international travel, people should be aware of the infectious diseases in the country or region through which they are traveling and should take appropriate precautions,” said KCHD Director Dr. Martha Buchanan. “Unfortunately, we do not have a vaccine for chikungunya, which is why awareness and preparation prior to travel are so important.”

The virus is widespread in the Caribbean once again this year. In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have confirmed 2,344 cases. Forty of those were in Tennessee, and four were in Knox County.

So far, only four of the cases were transmitted in the U.S., and those were in Florida.

of chikungunya Forty of these cases were in Tennessee, four of whom were Knox County residents. To date in the U.S., local transmission has only occurred in Florida. Chikungunya cases have also been reported in Africa, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and the islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Most patients feel better within a week. In some, however, joint pain may persist for months. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

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