Tulsa Health Officials Warn Of Mosquito-Borne Virus, 'Chik-V'

Monday, June 16th 2014, 5:58 pm
By: News On 6

A mosquito-borne virus is making people sick all across the country. Fifteen states confirm they have cases of Chikungunya, and the Tulsa Health Department is warning Oklahomans about the potential danger.

The health department is having all blood banks screen for the virus Chikungunya. It's migrated from Africa to the Caribbean. The only way to see if it's in Oklahoma is through a blood test.

West Nile Virus isn't the only threat mosquitoes pose this summer. Now Chikungunya - or Chik-V - is buzzing around with them.

"So it's not common here unless you have traveled to the Caribbean," said epidemiologist Nicole Schlaefli, Tulsa County Health Department.

But Chik-V has shown up in 15 states from California to Florida.

No cases have been reported in Oklahoma, but our neighbors in Arkansas are dealing with the virus. If you've been to the Caribbean recently, health officials say you need to watch out.

"And the symptoms are going to be kind of the same that we see with West Nile. You'd be very lethargic; you might spike a fever," Schlaefli said.

Epidemiologists say the sickness you will feel from Chick V won't kill you. Health officials warn to prevent three to five days of achy joints and feeling miserable, you need to be aware of how the virus spreads.

CDC Information On Chikungunya Virus

"It is carried by mosquitos - it's not person to person transmission at this point," said Nicole Schlaefli, epidemiologist.

"The only caveat that we have is our blood supply is going to be screened, and they find it in the blood supply."

So if you are giving or getting blood and it's infected with the virus- it will be thrown out. Local health officials say the warning comes because there is a concern that Americans who go to the Caribbean might be bitten by infected mosquitoes and then bring the virus, back to the U.S.

If you are at home or abroad, be mindful.

"Make sure that you drain all of your standing water, that you wear long sleeves, long pants when you are going to be in a mosquito-ridden area and you wear DEET," Schlaefli said.

"If you can't wear DEET, then there are things like permethrin that you can put on your clothing."

The Health Department says they are testing blood for Chik-V and also spraying for mosquitoes to stop the spread of West Nile.

They also set and test mosquito traps throughout the county.

Learn More About Mosquito Control From Tulsa Health Department