Tags: chikungunya | virus | mosquito

New Virus Warning Issued for U.S. Cities

Wednesday, 19 December 2012 12:40 PM

Health experts have issued a troubling warning about a new mosquito-borne virus that is showing up in the U.S. and could cause widespread outbreaks in New York City, Atlanta, and Miami as early as next year.
International travel and climate change are boosting the odds that the so-called chikungunya virus — spread by the Asian tiger mosquito — will cause potentially thousands of infections in the U.S., according to new research by Cornell University medical experts.
The study, published in the Public Library of Science journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, is based on a computer model that predicts that outbreaks of the painful virus — transported by global travelers — could occur in New York City next August and September, in Atlanta from June through September, and year-round in Miami.
As with West Nile Virus and other mosquito-borne infections, chikungunya outbreaks are expected to rise with warmer temperatures and wet weather. The researchers said an outbreak can be triggered by even a single infected person arriving in New York in July or August who is bitten by an Asian tiger mosquito. The risks are the same, but with wider time frames, for transmission in Atlanta and Miami.
An outbreak in New York would infect about one in 5,000 people, the study predicts.
"The virus is moving in people, and resident mosquito populations are picking it up," said lead researcher Laura Harrington, associate professor of entomology at Cornell.
Asian tiger mosquitoes were introduced to the United States in Texas in the 1980s and have spread up the East Coast to New York. The aggressive mosquito transmits more than 20 pathogens, including chikungunya and dengue fever.
Symptoms of chikungunya, which originated in Central Africa, include fever, joint pain, achiness, headache, nausea and fatigue, as well as "debilitating and prolonged" pain in the small joints of the hands and feet, according to the Cornell researchers.
There is no chikungunya vaccine, but residents can reduce their risks by removing standing water from around their homes, wearing long sleeves and repellent during the day when the mosquitoes feed, and knowing the risk and symptoms when traveling, Harrington said.

© HealthDay

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Experts have issued an alert about a new mosquito-borne virus in the U.S. that could cause widespread outbreaks.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 12:40 PM
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