Deadly new mosquito-borne virus could make its way to Middle TN - WSMV News 4

Deadly new mosquito-borne virus could make its way to Middle TN

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Doctors are warning about a deadly new mosquito-borne virus that could make its way to Middle Tennessee this spring.

Chikungunya is being called the new West Nile Virus.

While most mosquito-borne illnesses don't usually show up until summer, this one could show up in the next couple of months.

"[Chikungunya] means to bend up, kind of describing the pain that occurs when you have this virus," said Dr. Abelardo Moncayo, director of vector-borne diseases for the Tennessee Department of Health.

Moncayo says the symptoms of Chikungunya are a sudden onset of fever above 102 degrees and joint pain.

"It's a threat this year," Moncayo said.

The virus could make its way to the United States any time now, and warns Middle Tennesseans should be especially concerned.

The Southeast has two of the mosquitos capable of carrying Chikungunya.

"These are daytime-biting mosquitos. They're found in every county in Tennessee and throughout the Southeast," Moncayo said.

Chikungunya outbreaks have primarily occurred in Africa, Asia and Europe. But in late 2013, the virus spread to the Caribbean. Since then, there's been over 20,000 cases in that region alone.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has now joined forces with the Global Virus Network to help work on an effective vaccine.

"There's no vaccines, so the only way to protect yourself is to protect yourself against the bite of the mosquito," Moncayo said.

And while there hasn't been a single Chikungunya case reported in the U.S. experts believe the World Cup, being held this summer in Brazil, could speed up its arrival.

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