First Local Chikungunya Cases in United states

The first locally acquired case of chikungunya in the continental United States

Health officials confirmed : “Chikungunya has been reported in a Florida man and woman who had not recently traveled”
This confirmation is the first indication that the chikungunya virus may have taken up residence in the United States.

Health experts had said it was only a matter of time before the virus, carried by asian tiger mosquito, made its way to the U.S.
This moquito is spreading rapidly in the Caribbean and Central America, and even in New York
Usually, U.S. cases happen for people who had recently traveled to affected regions, but this time, it’s a local case. The first local case.

Two cases are officially delcared : one in Palm Beach County (a 50-year-old man), and one in Miami-Dade County (a 41-year-old woman)

“Since 2006, the United States has averaged 28 imported cases of chikungunya (chik-un-GUHN-ya) per year in travelers returning from countries where the virus is common. To date this year, 243 travel-associated cases have been reported in 31 states and two territories,” CDC said.

“However, the newly reported case represents the first time that mosquitoes in the continental United States are thought to have spread the virus to a non-traveler. This year, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands reported 121 and two cases of locally acquired chikungunya respectively.”

More info on dengue virus and chikungunya virus.

The Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus (also know as tiger mosquito) mosquitoes that spread chikungunya are found across the southern United States and as far north as New York.

There is a huge difference between a traveler carrying it and a locally transmitted case :

  • First case : a person comes from infected country with the virus and becomes sick un US. End of story.
  • econd case : a person comes from infected country with the virus and becomes sick un US. The perso is bitten by a tiger mosquito, which transmits the virus to another person

The second case is mutch more worrying, because what happen here proves that the virus could spread and infecte several dozens of persons allover Miami or Palm Beach, or even thousands of persons allovers the United states (see what happened in 1999with West Nile virus).

“The arrival of chikungunya virus, first in the tropical Americas and now in the United States, underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens,” said Roger Nasci, who heads CDC’s Arboviral Diseases Branch. “This emphasizes the importance of CDC’s health security initiatives designed to maintain effective surveillance networks, diagnostic laboratories and mosquito control programs both in the United States and around the world.”

CDC and the Florida Department of Health said they are looking for other locally acquired cases. “More chikungunya-infected travelers coming into the United States increases the likelihood that local chikungunya transmission will occur.”

[source : nbc news