According to the St. Louis Health Department, the patient with the disease contracted it while travelling in the Caribbean.
Although this is the first case reported in St. Louis County, there have been approximately 300 travel-related cases reported throughout the United States, according to the health department.
Only two cases in the U.S. have been locally-transmitted and both of those were in Florida.
The health department says most people infected with Chikungunya will develop symptoms within 3 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, but patients can also experience headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, and a rash. If you experience any of these symptoms, you are advised to contact your health-care provider.
Although the symptoms can be severe, Chikungunya is not often fatal.
The disease can only be transmitted by a mosquito bite. It cannot be transmitted by person-to-person contact.
There are only two species of mosquito that can carry Chikungunya and only one is found in the St. Louis area.
Currently, the mosquitoes in the St. Louis region do not carry Chikungunya, says the health department.
Area agencies like the Saint Louis County Department of Health’s Vector Control Services Program work to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the area and focus on the species that carry disease.
The health department says residents can help reduce opportunities for mosquitoes to flourish as well as reduce their chances of being bitten by doing the following:
- Remove all standing water: At least once a week, drain water from garbage cans, buckets, toys, flowerpots, wading pools, pet dishes, and other objects that can collect water.
- Change water in birdbaths at least once a week.
- Keep gutters clean and repair any tears in door and window screens.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and light colors when outdoors.
- Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET.
- Look for products containing the active ingredient methoprene or Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) to place in birdbaths or ponds, to prevent mosquitoes from developing.
- Eliminate unkempt vegetation to eliminate breeding and resting areas for mosquitoes.
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