Chikungunya, the Next West Nile?

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BRAZOS COUNTY, Texas A new mosquito-transmitted virus has health officials concerned.

It's called Chikungunya, and it's threatening to make itself known in the Brazos Valley.

Its most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.

There have been several cases in Texas, but Dr. Mark Johnsen with the Brazos County Health Department said none of those patients got the virus from a mosquito in the U.S.

"From people who have been vacationing down in the Caribbean, or South America," said Johnsen.

Johnsen said it wouldn't take much for the virus to spread in Texas. If a mosquito bites and infected person, it becomes a carrier. That mosquito can then fly up to a half a block away, then bite and infect someone else.

Mosquitoes tend to bite people on areas of the body that generate the most heat, like around the elbows, knees or ankles. And they can lay their eggs in just about anything that can hold water.

Johnsen said it's important to make sure nothing around your home has standing water.

Water in things like bird baths or ponds should be changed every three days to avoid breeding mosquitoes.

If you think you may have been infected, see your doctor. Johnsen said it's important to know who has the virus so they can not only keep track of it, but determine how it's being spread.


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