MONTEREY, Calif. - Monterey County health officials have confirmed the first case of chikungunya reported in a county resident.
The individual became infected with the virus after being bitten by mosquitoes while traveling in the Caribbean.
The most common symptoms of chikungunya virus infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. There's vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya virus.
Health officials say those aged 65 years or older and individuals with serious underlying medical conditions may be at increased risk for severe symptoms if infected with the virus.
Although common in parts of Asia, Africa, and India, chikunguyna virus is new to the Americas. It was first detected in the Caribbean in 2013 and is slowly spreading to countries such as El Salvador, Guyana, and Suriname.
It's transmitted to people through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus, and infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.
Monterey County health officials say people should take steps to protect themselves from mosquito bites when traveling to countries where mosquito-born diseases are common.
Those precautions include:
- Use air conditioning or window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes at night, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Use insect repellent products that contain DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. Always follow the manufacturer label instructions.
- If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first and then the repellent.
- Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
Sick travelers returning to the United States from countries where mosquito-borne diseases are common should contact their medical providers immediately. Early diagnosis of mosquito-borne disease can help doctors to alleviate patient symptoms and can help public health officials to monitor and control future spread of the disease locally.