Via the Dallas Morning News: First Texas mosquito carrying chikungunya virus poses mystery. Excerpt:
The first mosquito in Texas to test positive for the chikungunya virus is giving Harris County health officials a major headache.
They can’t figure out how the insect, caught Wednesday in Houston, became infected with a virus so new to Texas and the United States. To get it, the mosquito would have had to bite someone recently sickened by the disease.
With no active chikungunya cases within this bug’s modest flying range, public health officials wonder if it was infected elsewhere, then “hitchhiked” to Harris County.
“You never know how a mosquito can end up in an area,” Dr. Mustapha Debboun, the county’s mosquito control director, said Thursday. “It can be transported by vehicle, by airplane and even by the wind.”
The infection scenario is important because great effort is being made to stop chikungunya from getting a U.S. foothold. The disease, which causes severe joint pain and fever in 80 percent of infected people, has no known treatment or vaccine.
Nearly 500 U.S. travelers have brought the virus home from Caribbean and Central American countries, where it is spreading widely this year. The sick travelers are usually isolated during their recovery, while also avoiding contact with mosquitoes that could spread the virus further.
Two Harris County residents, a husband and wife, returned from the Caribbean with chikungunya in July. Their illnesses, however, occurred too long ago to involve this particular mosquito, Debboun said. The couple also lives too far away, about 14 miles, from the Houston area where the mosquito was trapped by a county disease surveillance crew.
Debboun said the county probably will never know how the mosquito, whose scientific name is Aedes aegypti, became infected.