New type of mosquito virus could harm Arkansas

Little Rock (KATV) - A new mosquito born virus is starting to spread across the county and could soon threaten parts of Arkansas. Several outbreaks of Chikungunya have been reported from American travelers coming back from the Caribbean with the virus. The Arkansas Health Department confirmed one person from the Natural State is carrying Chikungunya. The virus is transmitted once a person with Chikungunya is bitten by an Aedes mosquito. That mosquito can then infect other people. "The Chikungunya mosquito, the Aedes mosquito bites during the day, and they prefer [to bite] people," Dr. Susan Weinstein of the Arkansas Health Department said. Chikungunya isn't a fatal virus like West Nile, but the symptoms can stay in your system for a week, according to Dr. Weinstein. Fever, muscle pain, rash and severe joint pain are just a few symptoms a single mosquito can bring one person. The word Chikungunya means "contorted posture" and refers to the severe joint pains and arthritic symptoms associated with the disease. "I think it's inevitable that we will get Chikungunya in our mosquitoes," Dr. Weinstein said. The recent June rains have increased the threat for mosquitoes for the summer. The Health Department says the best prevention from any mosquito illness is to avoid being bitten: Use a deet bug spray if going out doors for extended periods of time. Wear long sleeves during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most prevalent. Dump out any standing water around your home. The Health Department says the disease-carrying Aedes mosquito is most likely around your home.