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Rare mosquito-borne disease identified in the U.S.

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Cheryl Santa Maria
Digital Reporter

Wednesday, June 11, 2014, 7:23 PM - A rare mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya was recently documented in Nebraska. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Department of Health announced Tuesday it is looking into another potential case of the disease, which may have been contracted by a resident during a Caribbean vacation.

Medical advisers say the virus typically isn't found in U.S. mosquitoes, but chikungunya can be brought into the states via people who have travelled to Africa, Europe and Asia.

"Travel associated cases of this disease are fairly uncommon in the U.S. However, we expect to see more in the coming years,” Dr. Joseph Acierno told the Nebraska News Network.

"Thankfully, deaths from the disease are rare, but the pain can be severe and debilitating."

Chukungunya is described as a 'painful and uncomfortable' infection with no specific treatment assigned to it.

Symptoms include joint paint, fever and rash. Fever can last up to five days, with pain persisting for much longer.


RELATED: Summer critters can carry serious diseases


Officials say the best course of action is to avoid infection.

People travelling to chikungunya-prevalent areas are advised to use an insect repellent containing DEET and wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and socks when outdoors.

Avoid standing water when possible.

The Department of Health and Human Services in the U.S. says there have been outbreaks in Africa, Europe and Asia.

In May, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates made headlines when he began a global conversation about the serious diseases mosquitoes can carry.

"The worst is malaria, which kills more than 600,000 people every year; another 200 million cases incapacitate people for days at a time. It threatens half of the world’s population and causes billions of dollars in lost productivity annually. Other mosquito-borne diseases include dengue fever, yellow fever, and encephalitis," he writes on his blog, adding that the insect kills an estimated 725,000 people each year.

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