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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: July 22, 2014


DOVER (July 22, 2014) - Warm weather brings sunshine and short sleeves, but it also brings mosquitoes. The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) reminds Delawareans that simple precautions will reduce your chances of getting mosquito-borne infections this summer, including Chikungunya, which has been confirmed in surrounding states.

Chikungunya, a disease outbreak in the Caribbean, has been found in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, including at least two cases in Philadelphia. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 236 cases in the continental US and only two are not associated with travel. (Florida is the only state that has seen cases not related to travel. The state just announced two cases in residents who have no recent travel history and must have become infected locally.) While there are no Delaware cases, the state does have the species of mosquito that can carry the disease from person to person and so DPH is reminding people to "fight the bite" today and every day.

Chikungunya (pronounced chik-en-gun-ye) 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. People at risk for more severe disease include newborns infected around the time of birth, older adults age 65 and older, and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

Other diseases transmitted to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito include West Nile virus (WNV), Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), and several other diseases that cause brain inflammation (encephalitis). While Delaware has not had a confirmed human case of EEE since 1979, cases of WNV have occurred as recently as 2013. In 2003, there were 17 confirmed human cases of WNV in Delaware, two which were fatal. During 2007, 2008 and 2011, one human case was confirmed each year. There was an increase in 2012 with nine cases, and there were three confirmed cases in 2013. There are no confirmed cases to date in Delaware in 2014.

Approximately 80 percent of human WNV infections are mild and cause no apparent symptoms. Nearly 20 percent of those infected develop a mild illness (West Nile fever), which includes fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting, and rash. A small percentage of patients, usually the elderly, develop severe neurological disease that results in meningitis or encephalitis.

"Because there is no anti-viral medication to treat Chikungunya or WNV, it is crucial that people take measures to protect themselves and prevent these diseases," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Division Director. "If you have symptoms that you think are caused by a mosquito-borne disease such as WNV or Chikungunya, contact your healthcare provider. This will allow them to run tests to determine the cause of your illness, and advise on treatment if needed. It will also help identify the local presence of these illnesses in Delaware."

DPH also recommends:

For additional information regarding mosquito-borne diseases or to report a case of Chikungunya , call the Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology: 1-888-295-5156 or 302-744-1033.

For more tips on preventing mosquito bites, visit www.cdc.gov/features/stopmosquitoes/

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.