Ky. officials investigate possible mosquito-borne 'chik-v' cases

LEXINGTON, Ky. (CBS/AP) - Health officials in Kentucky are investigating possible cases of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus which has been reported in 15 other states.

"Lab confirmation is pending at this time. We probably won't have a result until the end of the week at the soonest," Gwenda Bond from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services told WKYT about the illness nicknamed "chik-v."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 cases have been reported in Florida alone.

"This is not a fatal infection, it's just a miserable infection," said Dr. William Schaffner who is an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University. "The chikungunya fever will last three, four, five days. You're miserable. Then you'll get better. We can treat you symptomatically."

So far, all of the infected Americans have contracted the virus in parts of the world where it is common.

"There's a concern that people from the United States who go to the Caribbean might be bitten by infected mosquitoes and then bring this illness, this virus, back to the United States," said Dr. Schaffner. "We have the kind of mosquito that will transmit this virus here in the U.S."

Prior outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia and Europe. Late last year, the virus was found for the first time on the Caribbean islands, where more than 100,000 people have been sickened.

"At this time, only folks who've traveled recently to endemic areas are at risk, which means it's not a worry for the vast majority of Kentuckians," Bond said. "The disease is not passed person-to-person, but is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Our mosquito population is not known to be currently infected with the virus, but it is possible that could happen in the future."

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