Metro Health warns of Chikungunya virus

5 cases confirmed in Texas, 1 in Bexar Co.

By Stephanie Serna - Reporter
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SAN ANTONIO - San Antonio Metro Health District officials are sending out a warning about the Chikungunya virus.

This, after a fifth case of the virus was confirmed in Texas, one of them in Bexar County.

Dr. Anil Mangla, San Antonio Metro Health District epidemiologist, said while the virus is not considered deadly, its symptoms can be severe.

"This is a viral disease that is spread by mosquitoes, from mosquito to human," Mangla said. "So, it can't be transferred human to human. You have to get bit by a mosquito."

Mangla said the virus is common in the Caribbean and symptoms can start happening three to seven days after getting bitten.

He said that is why health officials are advising people who feel sick after a trip to the Caribbean to get checked out immediately.

"If you see any symptoms that are going to be fever, swelling in your joints, in your hands and knees, pain in the hands and feet," Mangla said.

Mangla said although there hasn't been anyone bitten in Bexar County who has contracted Chikungunya, it doesn't mean the virus will not show up.

So, he is urging people to take preventative measures by using insect repellents, containing DEET, wearing long sleeves and shirts and emptying standing water.

Limiting time outside at dusk and dawn will not make a difference with this virus, said Mangla, because these types of mosquitoes normally bite during the day.

With the recent rains, San Antonio Vector Control is taking preventative measures as well by treating all mosquito pools.

"Any standing water that doesn't have aquatic-life, like fish, we treat with a larvicide agent that has some residual affect," said Stephen Barscewski, Sanitarian Services manager with Vector Control. "So that we kill the mosquito larvae before they hatch troublesome disease spreading mosquitoes."

While there is only one confirmed case of Chikungunya in Bexar County, Mangla said they are investigating another case that was reported recently.

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