Show Thumbnails
Show Captions

DALLAS -- Dallas County Health and Human Services confirmed the first local case of chikungunya virus Tuesday.

The case was imported, according to health department spokesperson Erikka Neroes, meaning the patient was infected during recent travel to the Caribbean. The virus can't be passed from human to human.

No further patient information was released.

The chikungunya virus was discovered in Africa more than 60 years ago and was detected in the Caribbean late last year. About 135,000 people have been suspected or confirmed infected in the Western Hemisphere mostly in the Caribbean since last year, according to the Pan American Health Organization. It causes high fever and sudden, severe joint pain, and can also cause headache, muscle pain, and rash.

In June, national health officials warned an outbreak of the virus was possible in the U.S., where two mosquito species known to spread the disease are in abundance. The first case in Texas was discovered earlier this month in Travis County.

Chikungunya rarely results in death, but symptoms can be disabling, according to Dallas County Health and Human Services. There is no medication to treat the virus and there is no vaccine.

Health officials say the best way to protect yourself from the virus is to prevent mosquito bites.

Dallas County Health and Human Services advise the public to wear mosquito repellents with DEET, to dress in light-colored long sleeves and pants when outside, drain all standing water around their homes, and limit outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

USA TODAY's Aamer Madhani contributed to this report

Read or Share this story: