A painful virus passed on by mosquitoes typically found in the Caribbean and Central America has made its way to Indiana.
Seven Indiana residents have tested positive for the Chikungunya virus, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
The first case in the state was reported last month after a resident in Allen County tested positive for the virus.
Officials announced Thursday that six more cases have since been discovered.
The majority of those infected have traveled to the Caribbean, including four teens who were recently on mission trips to the area.
“Unfortunately, we did expect more cases in Indiana this summer with more Hoosiers traveling to the Caribbean for vacation, business or mission trips,” Jennifer Brown, DVM, State Public Health Veterinarian at the Indiana State Department of Health said in a statement.
Chikungunya has infected some 350,000 people and killed 21, and has been spreading throughout the Caribbean since December 2013. It is also found in Africa, Asia and islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific areas.
Though there have been cases seen in the U.S. before, the virus has recently been spreading to those who did not travel to the affected regions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Chikungunya does not often cause death, but the symptoms can be severe, officials said. The most common symptoms are high fever, severe joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or a rash.
There is no vaccine or specific treatment for the virus, the ISDH reports.
State officials are telling residents to take the following precautions to protect against the mosquito-borne virus:
- Avoid places where mosquitoes are biting, especially from late afternoon and dusk and dawn and early morning.
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin and reapply as directed;
- Use mosquito netting if you have exposure to the outdoors while sleeping in high-risk areas;
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and,
- When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.