Northeast Tarrant

Keller and Colleyville are newest confirmed cases of Chikungunya

KELLER Tarrant County Public Health is reporting the fifth and sixth “imported” cases of Chikungunya virus are being linked to Colleyville and Keller.

According to public health spokesman, chikungunya is a viral disease that can cause fever and severe joint pain and is spread to people by mosquitoes.

Keller spokeswoman Rachel Reynolds said that in the Keller case, the person, who was not identified, has already recovered, and is not contagious and pose no public health threat. She was told that the Keller resident traveled to the Caribbean last month and was bitten by a mosquito on the trip and contracted Chikungunya.

Especially with the Ebola scare in the region, the city is being very careful to communicate that this is not a public health threat, Reynolds said. The city is going to encourage people planning to travel to that area to get educated and take precautions against mosquito bites while there.

According to public officials, all six Tarrant County cases has confirmed this year and all human cases statewide have been “imported” cases. There have been no local transmissions.

Kelly Hanes, Tarrant County Public Health spokesman, said the first imported Chikungunya case in Tarrant County was on Aug. 22. A Mansfield resident contracted the disease while in the Caribbean and was was diagnosed by doctors upon returning home.

The second case of Chikungunya confirmed in Tarrant County was a Fort Worth resident who recently visited Puerto Rico.

The third through sixth cases were two in Colleyville, one in Arlington and one in Keller. Dates and details were unavailable. However, most cases were reported in August. The Keller case was reported Sept. 1.

Tarrant County Public Health officials said there have been no signs of the virus spreading locally.

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

But Chikungunya can be spread only when infected humans are bitten by mosquitoes. West Nile is present in the local bird population.

Chikungunya is an African word meaning “that which bends up,” referring to the joint pain the virus causes.

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.