State health officials monitoring for mosquito-borne virus

CREATED Jul 8, 2014

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MADISON - There have been 129 cases of chikungunya virus reported in the U.S. as of July 1, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

No cases have been reported in Wisconsin this year, but the state Department of Health Services is prepared in case the virus does make its way to the Badger State.  

"We are monitoring mostly patients who have traveled to endemic countries or areas that are dealing with outbreaks right now," explained Diep Hoang Johnson, a vector borne epidemiologist with the Division of Public Health.    

Chikungunya is believed to have originated in Africa.  It's found in Asia and has made its way to the Caribbean. That's where most travelers have been getting bitten lately.    

There's no vaccine or medication you can take to fight chikungunya.  Symptoms can last about a week and they can be nasty.      

"Acute onset of fever, and pretty horrific joint pain, that's what we hear,"  Hoang Johnson said.

The mosquito that carries chikungunya doesn't live in Wisconsin yet, but it does live in other parts of the country, so if you do get the virus, you shouldn't travel.    

"You should think about staying home for a while until you feel better because you do not want to travel to a state that has the mosquito vector, and then start an outbreak there," Hoang Johnson said.