RI reports cases of mosquito-borne chikungunya virus

A painful, mosquito-borne viral illness has surfaced in Rhode Island, carried by recent travelers to the Caribbean, where the virus is rampant.

The Health Department on Friday confirmed two cases of the chikungunya virus.

The Health Department said the travelers returned from the Dominican Republic on May 17, and May 29 complained to doctors of fever, muscle aches and pains, and joint pain. A few other suspected cases remain under investigation.

The virus is primarily transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.

The CDC has issued travel advisories for chikungunya virus to the Caribbean islands.

Most people exposed to the virus will develop symptoms. Chikungunya does not often cause death, but the symptoms can be severe. The most common symptoms are high fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.

There is no vaccine for a chikungunya virus infection. Treatment includes rest, fluids and anti-inflammatory drugs.

The Health Department advises people to see their healthcare provider if illness occurs after traveling from the Caribbean or after being bitten by a mosquito, and to protect themselves against mosquito bites.