WICHITA, Kan. — The first two cases of the travel-associated Chickungunya virus have been identified in Kansas, specifically in the Wichita area.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment says the patients are two adults from Sedgwick County who reported recent, separate, travel to the Caribbean.
The KDHE says infection with the mosquito-transmitted virus is rarely fatal, but symptoms can be severe. Most of those infected will have fever or joint pain, as well as headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.
“Chikungunya virus can be a serious and debilitating disease, and we want travelers to be aware” said Robert Moser, MD, Secretary and State Health Officer. “It is important for persons travelling to countries where chikungunya virus infections are currently reported to take appropriate precautions to prevent exposures to mosquito bites,” Moser said.
Outbreaks of the chikungunya virus have occurred in countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It showed up in the western hemisphere on St. Maarten, an island in the Caribbean, last December. Since then, cases have been identified in 19 Caribbean countries.
The virus has been identified in several U.S. states among travelers returning from these countries, but there is no indication that the virus is being transmitted to others on the mainland. That would only occur when area mosquitoes are infected, then transmit it to people.
However, mosquitoes that most commonly transmit chikungunya, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, have both been identified in the U.S., including Kansas. The KDHE says there is a growing concern among public health officials that the virus could become established in local mosquito populations and pose additional risk.