Health experts predict mosquito virus to spread

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The Indiana Department of Health has confirmed seven cases of a mosquito virus that’s just started making its way into the headlines this year. One of those cases is right here in Allen County.

The virus is called Chikungunya and health experts don’t see it going away anytime soon.

All seven Hoosiers infected traveled to the Caribbean.

However, officials with the Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Department predict the virus will spread, mostly to the southeastern part of the United States.

David Fiess, Director of Vector Control and Environmental Services Division for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Health Department said he’s kept an eye on the Chikungunya Virus on the internet, where as of now, more than 400,000 people have become infected in the Caribbean.

“The mosquito, it’s called Aedes albopictus or the other one is Aedes aegypti are more prevalent down in the Caribbean than up here in the United States. It’s around here in the United States. It’s just the virus hasn’t made it into that mosquito population yet,” said Fiess.

However, that could change.

About 500 cases have been reported in the United States.

One of those mosquitoes, Aedes albopictus, is already in the southern two-thirds of Indiana.

Last week, federal officials announced that for the first time, two people in Florida became infected within the United States.

“I would probably guess in the next year or two years, the Chikungunya Virus may be present in the southeastern part of the country more than it is now,” said Fiess.

As far as protecting yourself, health experts said to wear bug repellent and cover your skin.

“Flushing out your bird baths once a week, dumping out those buckets of water, getting rid of those tires, cleaning out those gutters, maintaining your swimming pools and hot tubs,” said Fiess.

Experts said this virus is rarely fatal.

The most common symptoms include joint pain and fever.

Other symptoms include headache, nausea or a rash.

Symptoms will most likely start between three and seven days after being bitten and will usually last about a week.

If you think you might be infected, call your doctor.

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