The Texas Department of State Health Services has confirmed its first human case of Chikungunya in Texas, in Williamson County near Austin.
"The cases you see in the news media are imported cases," said Dr. Anita Kurian who oversees the environmental department for Tarrant County Public Health.
This viral disease is transmitted by mosquitoes. The infected Texas resident recently returned from the Caribbean where the virus is spreading. The case number has climbed to 306,837, up 42,393 from the previous week, according to the Pan American Health Organization.
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"Once the local transmission is established, an outbreak is eminent and that’s what we in the U.S. are trying to avoid," said Kurian.
Tarrant County Public Health is keeping an eye on the issue, even though there are no reports of infected mosquitoes in the county.
Tarrant County has about 150 mosquito traps that are checked weekly. One by one mosquitoes are picked from a pool and categorized based on their type. They are tested for diseases that could be passed along to humans.
Still, health officials are warning the public to use bug repellant, especially when traveling to areas in the Caribbean.
"We are asking the health care provider community to consider Chikungunya as one of the diagnoses," said Kurian. "Look for it. Test for it. So you can test the blood of the person."
Symptoms begin within 3-7 days of getting bit. They include fever, joint pains or headaches.
Travelers coming from the Caribbean area with these symptoms should see a doctor, although right now there's no treatment or vaccine for the virus.