INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A mosquito-borne virus that has quickly spread through the Caribbean has been confirmed in a Fort Wayne-area resident who recently traveled to that region, Indiana health officials said Monday.
The chikungunya virus detected in Allen County doesn’t often cause death, but symptoms — including high fever and joint pain — can be severe, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
Other symptoms include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash, the agency said. Most patients feel better within a week, but joint pain can persist for months, it said.
People at risk for more severe symptoms include newborns, adults over age 65 and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease, it said.
“We expected the epidemic in the Caribbean to cause some travel-related cases here in Indiana,” Jennifer Brown, a public health veterinarian at the health department, said in a news release. “We encourage all Hoosiers to take precautions against mosquito bites at home and while traveling.”
The health department says people who develop these symptoms after traveling to the Caribbean or other areas where chikungunya is found should immediately contact a health care provider.
As of May 30, the Pan American Health Organization has recorded more than 100,000 confirmed and suspected cases of chikungunya since the first locally transmitted case in the Caribbean in December.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the only locally transmitted case in the U.S. has occurred in Puerto Rico. As of last week, 27 travel-related cases also have been confirmed in Florida and seven other states, the CDC said.
Chikungunya can be transmitted from a sick person to a healthy person by the bite of an infected mosquito, and health officials urged Indiana residents to take precautions.