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First Case of Chikungunya Confirmed in Tennessee

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The Tennessee Department of Health has confirmed the first case of chikungunya in Tennessee, according to a Friday press release.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory results show a resident of Madison County tested positive for the virus.

TDH is reminding Tennesseans of the importance of taking precautions to protect themselves from bites from mosquitoes that may spread this and other viruses such as West Nile and La Crosse.

Multiple people from Tennessee and other states who recently traveled to the Caribbean now have symptoms of the illness.

Chikungunya is now widespread in the Caribbean, with more than 100,000 suspected cases reported. Right now, there is no evidence of transmission of chikungunya in Tennessee, so people most at risk are those returning from travel to the Caribbean.

"At this time there is no vaccine against chikungunya, so the only way to contain its spread is to prevent mosquito bites," said State Epidemiologist Dr. Tim Jones. "Chikungunya is spread by mosquitoes that feed during the day and are found in abundance in Tennessee."

Chikungunya is transmitted by daytime, biting mosquitoes.

People who get chikungunya often have a sudden onset of fever, chills, headache, nausea, sensitivity to light, vomiting, rash and severe joint pain. Fever and joint pain are the most common symptoms, and most infected people feel better within a week. However, in some the joint pain may persist for months.

Symptoms of chikungunya are similar to those of another disease spread by mosquitoes recently seen in the United States called dengue.

Anyone with these symptoms should consult his or her health care provider and let the provider know if you have recently traveled abroad.

People at risk for more serious effects from chikungunya include newborns, those over age 65 and those with health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure.

While there is no medicine to treat or cure the infection, rest, fluids to prevent dehydration and medicines like acetaminophen to relieve fever and pain are helpful. Fortunately, once a person has been infected with chikungunya, they are likely to be protected from future infections, and the disease rarely results in death.

"Anyone with symptoms of chikungunya virus should minimize his or her exposure to mosquitoes to reduce the risk of transmission," said State Medical Entomologist Abelardo Moncayo, PhD, director of the TDH Vector-Borne Diseases program. "A mosquito can pick up the virus from an infected human and infect other people."

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