Second case of chikungunya confirmed in Delaware

A 51-year-old New Castle County woman is Delaware’s second confirmed case of the chikungunya virus.

Similar to the first case of the disease in the state, Delaware’s Division of Public Health announced Thursday that the second case was related to Caribbean travel.

The woman was treated in the hospital in August and released. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the case to DPH on Tuesday. 

A 51-year-old Sussex County man was the state’s first reported case in July. DPH officials said he was treated for his symptoms and was never admitted to the hospital. 

Chikungunya is transmitted by the bite of infected mosquitoes. There are no documented cases of the disease spreading from person-to-person, which is considered rare.

As of Sept. 2, the CDC reported approximately 758 cases in the country, with all but seven cases associated with travel. Florida is the only state that has seen cases in which residents were infected from local mosquitoes

Chikungunya is a potentially debilitating disease characterized by acute onset of fever and joint pains occurring after an incubation period of three to seven days. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Newborns, the elderly and those medical conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease are at risk for a more severe reaction to the disease.

“Given global travel habits, we considered the disease coming to Delaware almost inevitable,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director. “It is important to remember that mosquito season is not over and we are urging people to remember to protect themselves from bites both in Delaware and abroad.”

To prevent mosquito-borne infections, DPH recommended wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants when working outside, particularly at dusk and early in the morning when mosquitoes are most active. 

In addition to using mosquito repellents, DPH said eliminating or managing standing water around your house is the best method to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your backyard.

Chikungunya cases have also been diagnosed in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, including at least two cases in Philadelphia.

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