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Chikungunya cases confirmed in Colleyville, Keller

The most recent cases of the Chikungunya virus confirmed in Tarrant County are linked to Arlington, Colleyville and Keller, officials said Friday.

Tarrant County Public Health has confirmed six cases in the county — all of which were “imported” by residents who contracted the viral disease after being bitten by mosquitoes outside the United States.

Chikungunya, which is most prevalent in the Caribbean, can cause fever and severe joint pain and is spread to people by the Aedes mosquito. It has no known cure but is rarely fatal.

Keller spokeswoman Rachel Reynolds said that in the Keller case, the unidentified person has recovered, is not contagious and poses no public health threat. Reynolds was told that the Keller resident traveled to the Caribbean last month.

Colleyville spokeswoman Mona Gandy said that Tarrant County notified the city about both its cases and reported that “the people who have it here are not contagious.”

No information was available on the Arlington case.

According to Tarrant County Public Health officials, the first imported Chikungunya case was confirmed in August. A Mansfield resident contracted the disease while in the Caribbean and was diagnosed by doctors upon returning home.

The second case confirmed in the county was a Fort Worth resident who had recently visited Puerto Rico.

There have been no signs of the virus spreading locally, said Kelly Hanes, Tarrant County Public Health spokesman.

Unlike West Nile virus, in which only 20 percent of those bitten develop symptoms, 90 percent of those bitten by mosquitoes carrying Chikungunya have symptoms, officials said.

Public health officials warned those traveling to areas of the Caribbean or Central America where the virus is present to wear long sleeves or insect repellent while outdoors. If they develop symptoms, they should see a doctor immediately.

Officials warn that the virus could be spread locally because the Aedes mosquito is found in Texas. Aedes mosquitoes are active and bite during the day.

Culex mosquitoes carry West Nile virus, which is more prevalent in North Texas, and bite at night.

Chikungunya outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian and Pacific oceans. In late 2013, the virus was found for the first time in the Americas on Caribbean islands and has since spread to Central America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

CHIKUNGUNYA SYMPTOMS

High fever, headaches, rash, and muscle aches and severe joint pain in the arms, back and legs.

West Nile symptoms

Neuroinvasive disease: Neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. This form can be deadly.

Fever: Headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, nausea and fatigue.

Preventing mosquito bites

• Wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants, especially at dawn and dusk.

• Regularly drain all standing water. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as a tablespoon of water.

• Use an approved insect repellent (containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus).

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