Health officials have confirmed that an Iredell County person who recently traveled out of the country contracted the chikungunya virus.
This marks the sixteenth person in North Carolina to be affected by the virus, although none have acquired it in the state.
The chikungunya virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Officials say it can most likely be acquired by traveling to affected areas in Africa, Asia, islands of the Indian Ocean, Western Pacific, the Caribbean, and Florida.
Officials say that information about where the Iredell County resident acquired the virus will not be released in order to protect patient health information.
Symptoms of the virus typically include sudden fever and severe, often disabling, joint pains in the hands and feet. The symptoms usually begin three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Health officials say the best way to prevent the virus is to avoid mosquito bites, and offer the following steps to protect yourself.
1. Prevent getting mosquito bites:
Reduce time outdoors during early morning and evening hours when mosquitoes are most active.
Use mosquito repellents containing DEET or other EPA approved repellent (includes Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus). Use as often as recommended by product directions to achieve the best protection.
Spray clothing with a repellent containing permethrin to offer another layer of protection
Cover skin with light colored, long pants and long-sleeved shirts
2. Immediately seek medical care if person develops fever within two weeks of returning home from travel abroad.
3. Getting rid of standing water is the most important thing you can do to prevent mosquitoes around your home & our community. Take these simple steps to "Tip and Toss" standing water.
Look around your home or neighborhood for items that can hold water – like cans, bottles, tires, flower pots, and tree stumps. Tip and Toss standing water.
Get rid of water on plastic covers on woodpiles, sand boxes or pools.
Change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least two times a week.
Fix leaky outdoor faucets.
Cover rain barrels with tight-fitting screens or lids.
Keep gutters clean.
Stock ponds with fish that will eat mosquito larvae. Treat water with products from a local hardware store that will kill young mosquitoes.