June 26, 2014 at 11:37 pm

2 in Michigan infected with new mosquito-borne virus

Two Michigan residents are the first in the state to be infected with a new mosquito-borne virus, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.

The patients from Wexford and Midland counties traveled to the Caribbean where officials say they contracted chikungunya, a non-fatal virus that causes fever and joint pain.

“After about three to seven days, there will be flu-like symptoms, skin rash and fever,” said Dr. Marcus Zervos, head of Henry Ford Hospital’s Infectious Diseases Division. “But the most significant symptom is joint aches. The joint aches can be quite severe, lasting days, weeks, even months.”

Doctors have known about the virus’ outbreaks in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Indian and Pacific oceans regions, but it was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean in late 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

All known cases are believed to have been contracted in the Caribbean, and no infected mosquitoes have been found in the United States. There is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya, so physicians are warning travelers to be proactive in preventing it, Zervos said.

“If someone is going to travel, wear protective clothing, use insect repellant and keep hotel rooms closed, and try not to stay places that have standing water around,” Zervos said.

tbriscoe@detroitnews.com