"--IANS/EFE"
Atlanta, July 18 (IANS/EFE) The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has said that the first case of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus in the US has been confirmed in a person in Florida.

The CDC said the patient is a man who apparently had not travelled abroad recently, and the federal agency is investigating how he became infected and is closely monitoring the possible appearance of other cases in the area.

The arrival of chikungunya virus, first in the tropical Americas and now in the US underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens, said Roger Nasci, the head of CDC's Arboviral Diseases Branch, Thursday.

The virus, which is not well-known in the US, has been detected over the past seven months in residents of several Caribbean islands.

There have been cases in several US states and territories, but until Thursday all those cases involved people who had travelled abroad to one of the affected zones.

In Puerto Rico, authorities Thursday declared a chikungunya epidemic on the island, given the rapid spread of the virus which, so far, has been confirmed in 206 people.

The virus, which produces symptoms similar to those of dengue, is transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito.

According to CDC figures, 243 cases have been registered in 31 US states and territories among people who had travelled abroad so far this year, compared with an average of 28 cases per year registered since 2006.

There is no vaccine and no treatment for the chikungunya virus.

The symptoms oinclude fever, fatigue, headache and aching joints, nausea and skin rash, all of which generally appear between three and seven days after a victim is bitten by a carrier mosquito and can last for up to three months.

Despite the discomfort, however, the disease is rarely fatal.

--IANS/EFE

ab/vt


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