New mosquito-borne virus now in Louisiana

BATON ROUGE, LA (WVUE) - A new mosquito-borne virus has made its way to Louisiana.

Chikungunya fever, which has been recognized in Asia and Africa for more than 60 years, was seen for the first time in the Western Hemisphere last December when it showed up in the Caribbean, said LSU AgCenter entomologist Kristen Healy.

"We know of eight cases of chikungunya fever so far in the state of Louisiana," Healy said. "There has been one case in Grant Parish, three cases in Jefferson, three in Orleans and one in Tangipahoa."

The disease is unlikely to be fatal, but it is possible, she said. "This is especially true in the elderly, those who are seriously ill and newborns of infected mothers."

There is no antivirus treatment available for chikungunya.

"Really, all that we can do right now is provide some relief for the symptoms," Healy said.

The most common symptoms, according to the CDC, are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

Healy said the public needs to do its part in controlling mosquitoes by making sure they are not providing a breeding ground by leaving standing water around.

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