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New Mosquito-Borne Illness Appears In Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSPD) -- A new mosquito-borne illness has sickened at least two Ohioans, but health officials say right now there's no sign that it's being spread in the state.

Chikungunya is a virus that causes fever, flu-like symptoms, joint pain and severe headaches, but Richard Gary, state public health entomologist with the Ohio Dept of Health, says it's only been found in people who have traveled to the Caribbean.

"We have a pretty big outbreak going on down there right now," he said.

The so-called yellow fever mosquito is the primary carrier of the disease, but those are confined mostly to the southeastern United States.

"We may have small populations that pop up in the summer time, but they don't survive the winters here, so we haven't seen this mosquito in Ohio in quite a few years," said Gary.

However, the Asian tiger mosquito, which is common in Ohio, could also carry the disease. It's most common in the southern part of the state, but has been found as far north as Toledo in recent years.

"There is some concern that people who bring the disease into areas where this mosquito lives that could lead to a local outbreak," he said.

So far, all of the cases have been imported into the United States, but Gary says they'll be concerned if they start seeing cases in people who haven't traveled.

 

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