Alabama records case of mosquito-borne virus

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - The state Department of Public Health has confirmed the first case of a nasty, mosquito-borne virus in Alabama.

The department’s deputy director for medical affairs, Thomas Miller, said Wednesday a Huntsville woman got chikungunya (chik-in-GUHN’-yuh) while traveling in Haiti. She has recovered.

He said the woman was beyond the transmission stage when she returned to Alabama, and there is no danger of a mosquito in Alabama biting her and spreading the virus to someone else.

Chikungunya originated in Africa, and it derives its name from an African word that loosely translates as “contorted with pain.” Health officials say the virus causes flu-like symptoms with high fever and joint pain, but it is rarely fatal.

It appeared in the Caribbean last year and has affected tens of thousands of people in the region, especially in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report cases of chikungunya have been recorded in all of Alabama’s neighboring states, but they were all acquired while traveling outside the United States. The CDC reports there have been no locally transmitted cases in the U.S. this year, but the two types of mosquitoes that can spread the virus, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, are found in Alabama and several other Southern states.

“These mosquitoes are the type active in the daylight hours. Don’t let your guard down during the day,” Miller said.

He said people planning trips to the Caribbean should follow the same advice they receive at home: use insect repellant, wear sleeves that cover the arms, and avoid standing water in old tires, flower pots and other containers.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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