Mosquito-borne virus raises health concerns - News, Weather and Sports for Lincoln, NE;

Mosquito-borne virus raises health concerns

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By: Brittany Paris

We all know mosquitoes can be annoying, but they’re also causing a health scare.

Mosquito-borne virus, Chikungunya, has made its way to the United States. And it has health officials concerned.

Multiple states have reported cases, but they’ve also been travel related, mainly from the Caribbean.

Nebraska has had one reported case this year, the infected woman had just been to Haiti.

"We haven't had any cases that were acquired here in Nebraska. We've had 32 cases in 10 states around the United States," Thomas Safranek, State Epidemiologist.

But Safranek says it’s probably just a matter of time before we do see Chikungunya transmitted in the country.

The virus is not deadly, but it is debilitating, and symptoms can last for weeks.

"The most prominent symptom is severe muscle aches with fever," Safranek said.

The virus is associated with a specific kind of mosquito, the Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus, different fro the one that spreads West Nile.

Unfortunately, we do have them here in Nebraska and unlike most mosquitoes, they bite during the daytime.

"We do have some Aedes mosquitoes in Nebraska. We're not sure how widespread they are and we think right now the risk of acquiring this disease in Nebraska is low," Safranek said.

He recommends you remember the mosquito-control basics.

Use bug spray with deet, especially if you’re in wooded areas. Dress appropriately with long sleeves and pants. And get rid of standing water so mosquitoes don’t breed.

There is no known cure or treatment for Chikungunya.

There are concerns that this could be the next West Nile, but Safranek says he doesn’t think Chikungunya will jump the way West Nile did because it had other vectors like birds. With Chikungunya, birds are not a factor.

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