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First case of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus, acquired in U.S.

A mosquito on the U.S. mainland from either the species Aedes albopictus (shown) or A. aegypti transmitted chikungunya virus to a man in Florida.

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Guest post by Lila Guterman

A Florida man has chikungunya, a painful but rarely deadly disease that has caused outbreaks in Africa, Asia and Europe. He is the first person in the continental United States to contract the virus without traveling outside the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The case represents the first time that mosquitoes on the U.S. mainland have passed the virus to a person. More than 200 cases have been reported in the United States this year, all previously in people who had traveled to other countries. 

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have also reported locally acquired cases of chikungunya. The first cases acquired locally in the Western Hemisphere date to December 2013.

The two species of mosquito that carry the virus, Aedes aegypti and A. albopictus, live in a broad swath of the United States.

Chikungunya causes fever, headache and joint pain that can be debilitating. No treatments or vaccines are available.

For more on chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases, read SN's In the Eye of the Tiger feature.

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