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State's first case of chikungunya confirmed in Williamson Co.

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A mosquito-borne virus shows up for the first time in Texas--right here in our viewing area.

Tests confirmed today that a Williamson County resident has been diagnosed with Chikungunya.

These tiger-striped mosquitos are transmitting a nasty virus in summer vacation destinations and infected travelers are returning home to the states. Most recently, a Williamson County resident who had been to the Caribbean was diagnosed. It was the first case in Texas.

The virus is called Chikungunya.

"The features are pretty classic viral illness with headaches and fever and the strange attribute is that it causes severe joint pain," said Coburn Allen, M.D.

Some patients also get a rash.

Seton pediatric infectious disease Doctor Coburn Allen says the pain patients experience can last for year--long after the virus is out of a person's system.

"We don't have any way to treat this infection other than pain control, so we use things like ibuprofen or Tylenol," Allen said.

Allen has become an expert on the virus through a clinic he runs in Haiti.

"We've done surveillance over the last two months," he said. "We know that at least 90 percent of our population in our small village in Haiti has had what they believe to be chikungunya."

Last month the centers for disease control and prevention put out a travel alert.

Allen says the virus appeared in St. Martin in November of last year. Within weeks, he says it was in 10 Caribbean islands.

As of July first, Florida lead travel-associated cases with 34. New York and Tennessee have had 8 and California is close behind with 7. With the diagnosis Monday, Texas now joins the list with one.

Allen believes hundreds currently have it. He expects that to multiply. While the virus does not spread from person to person, the transmission source is buzzing all around us.

"Unfortunately in the U.S. we have the type of mosquito that can transmit this virus, so once it gets the opportunity, this can occur here," Allen said.

We're used to the warning about avoiding being outside during dusk and dawn. The mosquitos that transmit this virus bite during the day. If you plan to travel to the Caribbean, you are encouraged to wear a mosquito repellant with DEET anytime you are outside.

That is the best prevention here at home too. Last week, there was a West Nile virus diagnosis in Travis County. That case was the first for the state as well.


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