Local Spike in Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Virus

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A mosquito-borne virus with a complicated name and some pretty serious symptoms has surfaced in New Jersey.

    New Jersey Department of Health officials say instances of Chikungunya -- a mosquito-borne virus that may cause high fever and long-term debilitating joint pain -- infections have been reported among 25 residents in 10 New Jersey counties as of July 28.

    The arrival of Chikungunya was first reported in the U.S. in Florida in early July, and coincides with the peak season for seeing cases of West Nile Virus. West Nile Virus, an illness that may cause fever, vomiting, and dizziness is also contracted by way of a mosquito.

    New Jersey's Public Health Department lab tests found mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile Virus in 11 counties, including, Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Mercer, and Middlesex.

    In conjunction with a public information campaign that launched last week, New Jersey's Deputy Commissioner of Public Health Services Arturo Brito offered tips to residents on how to avoid contracting West Nile Virus, cases of which peak in late summer and the early months of fall.

    "Human cases of West Nile Virus typically appear from August through October, and residents should be careful to protect themselves," Brito said. "Residents should take preventive measures like using repellent, wearing long sleeves, long-pants, covering doors and windows with screens and removing standing water on their property that breeds mosquitoes."

    Health officials believe the spike in cases of Chikungunya in N.J. may be related to travel to the Caribbean.

    While no cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in New Jersey this year, a total of 12 residents tested positive for the virus last summer.

    There is no vaccine or medication to prevent or treat either virus.