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EUGENE, Ore. - A Lane County man contracted a rare mosquito-borne virus known as chikungunya while visiting the Caribbean, Lane County Public Health said.
The unidentified individual, the first Lane County resident to contract the disease, is expected to recover.
"This is more than a nuisance virus, but less than a deadly virus," states Dr. Patrick Luedtke, Lane County Public Health Officer.
The man's diagnosis poses little or no risk to other Lane County residents. The virus is spread by a species of mosquito that isn't found in the Pacific Northwest.
But the diagnosis highlights the spread of the disease, previously unheard of in most of the Western hemisphere.
Prior to 2013, the viral disease had only been identified in Africa, southern Europe, southeast Asia and isalnds in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
It was found for the first time on Caribbean islands late last year.
Symptoms usually begin 3 to 7 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. Fever and severe joint pain are the most common symptoms. Most patients feel better within a week.
Dr. Luedtke wouldn't reveal the man's name, but says the Lane County resident is recovering. Adds the doctor, "Just because one case showed up in Lane County doesn't mean we are all at risk, because we can't get it from that person. We can only get it from mosquitoes."
Dr. Ann Powers of the Centers For Disease Control agrees the Northwest for now is safe, but is worried about the main mosquito-carrier, Aedes albopictus. Powers told KVAL News the mosquito could soon be present in one fourth to one third of of the lower 48 states.