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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cases of untreatable chikungunya virus bought to NH from Caribbean

Two people have brought back a new and untreatable viral disease called chikungunya from the Caribbean to New Hampshire, although there is no danger of it spreading because mosquitoes that carry the virus don’t live this far north.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that two cases of chikungunya had been found in people who traveled to the Caribbean. These are the first cases in New Hampshire of the virus, which was discovered in east Africa in 1952 and has spread to many countries, showing up in the Americas in December 2013. ...

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Two people have brought back a new and untreatable viral disease called chikungunya from the Caribbean to New Hampshire, although there is no danger of it spreading because mosquitoes that carry the virus don’t live this far north.

The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that two cases of chikungunya had been found in people who traveled to the Caribbean. These are the first cases in New Hampshire of the virus, which was discovered in east Africa in 1952 and has spread to many countries, showing up in the Americas in December 2013.

The virus is rarely fatal but can make patients sick with fever, headaches, vomiting and rashes and can cause extreme joint pain that lasts for weeks. There is no medication to treat it and no vaccine to prevent it.

A total of 27 states have confirmed cases of the chikungunya virus. Florida has the most confirmed cases.

“While this is our first announcement of this virus, unfortunately, it probably won’t be the last,” said DHHS Public Health Director Dr. Jose Montero. “This disease and the mosquitoes that carry it are spreading.

“We want to urge people who are traveling to areas where this virus now exists to take the same precautions when outdoors that they would here to prevent being bitten by mosquitoes, namely wear an effective insect repellent, long sleeves and pants. In some countries, a bed net might be advisable if screens are not available.”

People with symptoms of chikungunya who have recently traveled to the Caribbean or Central or South America should contact their health care provider.

For more information about chikungunya, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/chikungunya or the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/cdcs/team.htm.