Chikungunya virus targets 20 New Jersey residents, USA

Chikungunya Virus Alert

Twenty New Jersey residents have tested positive for the chikungunya virus, according to the state Health Department.

The mosquito-borne virus has spread through the Caribbean, and the first two cases in the U.S. were reported last week in Florida.

Health officials say the virus is not contagious from person to person, is typically not life threatening and will likely resolve on its own.

If a person tests positive for chikungunya and is then bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito may later spread the infection by biting another person.

Infection with chikungunya virus is rarely fatal, but the joint pain can often be severe and debilitating. Other symptoms include high fever, headache, muscle pain, back pain and rash.

Symptoms appear on average three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito, the health department says. Most patients feel better after a few days or weeks, however, some people may develop long-term effects. Complications are more common in infants younger than a year old; those older than 65; and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

The state Health Department says the residents who came down with chikungunya had returned to New Jersey from the Caribbean. Chikungunya causes a high fever and severe pain in the joints.

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