INDIANAPOLIS From the Indiana State Department of Health:
Six more Hoosiers have tested positive for the chikungunya virus, making a total of seven reported cases in the state. The majority of individuals have confirmed travel to the Caribbean, including four teens who were recently on mission trips to the area.
Transmitted by mosquitoes, chikungunya has been found in multiple Caribbean countries since December 2013. It has also been found in Africa, Asia and islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific areas. Mosquitoes in the United States do not appear to be carrying the virus.
“Unfortunately, we did expect more cases in Indiana this summer with more Hoosiers traveling to the Caribbean for vacation, business or mission trips,” said Jennifer Brown, DVM, State Public Health Veterinarian at the Indiana State Department of Health. “If you are traveling to the Caribbean or other areas of the world where chikungunya is found, be sure to take precautions against mosquito bites.”
The Indiana State Department of Health continues to receive specimens for testing and continues its surveillance and investigation for any chikungunya cases in Indiana.
State health officials strongly recommend taking the following precautions to protect against any mosquito-borne viruses in Indiana and elsewhere:
• Avoid places where mosquitoes are biting, especially from late afternoon and dusk and dawn and early morning;
• Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin and reapply as directed;
• Use mosquito netting if you have exposure to the outdoors while sleeping in high-risk areas;
• Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and,
• When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.
Most people exposed to chikungunya will develop symptoms. Chikungunya does not often cause death, but the symptoms can be severe. The most common symptoms are high fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash. Most patients feel better within one week, but the joint pain can persist for months in some cases. People who develop these symptoms after traveling to the Caribbean or other areas where chikungunya is found should contact a health care provider immediately.
Some individuals may be more susceptible to severe diseases, including newborn infants, adults over age 65 and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease. There is no specific treatment for chikungunya, but individuals can receive supportive care for relief of fever and joint pain. There is no vaccine for the virus.
Chikungunya is not spread from direct person to person contact, but can be transmitted from a sick person to a healthy person by the bite of an infected mosquito. Infected individuals are strongly advised to take extra precautions to avoid mosquitoes during the first week of illness.
“If you believe that you have had symptoms of chikungunya and have traveled recently to the Caribbean, visit your health care provider and tell them about your travel history,” said Dr. Brown.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not issued any travel advisory or restrictions for the Caribbean area.
State health officials encourage Hoosiers to take the following steps to rid their properties of potential mosquito breeding areas:
• Discard old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;
• Repair failed septic systems;
• Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
• Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
• Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
• Frequently replace the water in pet bowls;
• Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically; and
• Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov for important health and safety information, or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/isdh1.