Jefferson Co. resident contracts 5th case of Chikungunya virus i - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Jefferson Co. resident contracts 5th case of Chikungunya virus in Ala.

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A Jefferson County resident is the fifth person in Alabama to contract the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus.

The symptoms cause fever, headaches and severe joint pain, a rash, but it's rarely fatal.

The first case was contracted by a woman in Huntsville and state health officials say she's fully recovered.

The Huntsville woman was visiting Haiti at the time officials believe she contracted the virus.

"My head ached and then I started running a fever. Then I woke up the next morning with a rash and my jaws were hurting, and I had little white bumps in my mouth," explained Kyra Holway.

Health officials say this is not a disease caused by mosquitoes in America. It's carried by the Asian Tiger mosquito and is prevalent in the Caribbean, Asia and Africa.

"It's traveling up the Caribbean just off the coast of America," explained Dr. Edward Khan, Medical Director for the CDC.

It hasn't reached the states but Dr. Khan explains officials are worried it could.

All it takes is for a mosquito in this country to feed on an already infected person, and once the mosquito is infected, they can pass it on to another.

"If enough cases got up and if enough mosquitoes got infected, then that's a possibility. Again that hasn't been observed but they are watching very closely for that," added Khan.

There is no cure for the Chikungunya virus. According to Dr. Khan patients usually feel better after days of rest, fluids and painkillers. In some cases, the joint pain symptoms can turn severe.

"People can get like a chronic arthritis. The joints can be very painful. It can hurt," added Khan.

There is also no vaccination to prevent the virus, but there are steps travelers can take to protect themselves.

Dr. Khan recommends wearing mosquito repellent, protective wear like long sleeves, and adds that it wouldn't hurt to sleep with a mosquito net.

Once a person is infected, they should be protected from future infections.

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, there have been five cases in Alabama so far.

Two cases were reported in Colbert County, one in Tuscaloosa, one in Birmingham and the initial case in Huntsville.

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