Arizona reports 1st case of chikungunya virus

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By Christina O'Haver By Christina O'Haver

PHOENIX -- Arizona has reported its first case of the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Arizona had one travel-related case as of Tuesday. There have been no locally transmitted cases reported, meaning there are no known mosquitoes infected with chikungunya in the state.

"It's not really here yet, but folks that are traveling to the Caribbean or to other countries where they do have chikungunya, it's something they want to be aware of," said Jessica Rigler with the Arizona Department of Health Services.

A total of 129 cases have been reported in the United States and its territories, 14 of which were locally transmitted in Puerto Rico. Florida has reported 34 travel-related cases, which is more than any other state.

According to the CDC, all of the known cases in the continental U.S. have been travel-related, but those imported cases could potentially result in local spread of the virus.

The most common symptoms are fever and headache, but Rigler said sometimes people will experience muscle aches or develop a rash.

"It's typically not as severe as West Nile virus is," Rigler said. "Someone may experience some discomfort for about a week, but typically you don't see those severe symptoms that would cause hospitalization or death."

According to the CDC, symptoms can be disabling, and some people may have joint pain for months.

"We always worry about folks that are very, very young, very old or immuno-compromised because diseases can be more severe in those populations," Rigler said.

There is no treatment for chikungunya, but people can relieve symptoms by resting, drinking fluids, and taking fever-reducing and pain-relieving medication.

Rigler said people traveling to the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe should take measures to prevent mosquito bites, such as wearing long sleeves and pants, using insect repellent, and keeping windows and doors closed.