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Chikungunya Virus Reported In Five Texas Counties, Including Bexar County

Bexar County

Although a handful of Texas residents have been identified as being infected with the chikungunya virus, officials are working to get ahead of any possible panic situations in Bexar County.

The Bexar County Emergency Management Office and the Metro Helath Department briefed county commissioners on the situation with the chikungunya virus in the local area. So far, cases have been confirmed in Gonzales, Harris, Travis, Williamson and Bexar Counties.

"The confirmed cases in Texas have occurred in people that had traveled abroad," said county spokeswoman Laura Jesse. "There is no evidence that there are mosquitoes in Bexar County or in this region that are carrying the virus."

Jesse said people who have traveled to the Caribbean should watch their condition and take precautions in case the virus shows up within a couple of weeks. If that happens, the person needs to report it to the doctor because they could cause the virus to spread.

"The chikungunya virus is carried by mosquitoes," Jesse said. "But humans who are infected and are bit by a mosquito can infect that mosquito that bit them. So humans act as a vector when you're talking about ChikV."

The Texas Department of State Health Services reported the first case of ChikV July 7 in Williamson County, north of Austin. The person had been to the Caribbean, where the virus has been active since late 2013.

There is no treatment, but the illness is rarely fatal. Symptoms include a rash, severe joint pain accompanied by joint swelling, high fever, head and muscle aches and usually subside in about a week.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.