Kentucky confirms first case of Caribbean virus - WPSD Local 6: Your news, weather, and sports authority

Kentucky confirms first case of Caribbean virus

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP/WPSD) - State health officials have confirmed Kentucky's first case of a nonfatal mosquito-borne virus prevalent in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

The Kentucky Department for Public Health says it has confirmed the chikungunya virus, or CHIKV, in an Anderson County man who recently traveled to Haiti. Officials expect at least nine other Kentuckians who recently traveled in the same region may also have the virus.

Hundreds of people from the Local 6 area travel to Haiti every year as part of mission trips. President and CEO of Crossings Ministries David Melber said they send more than 250 people every year.

This year he hopes is no different.

"Whether there's a virus or not we want to go to take all the precautions we can,  but they're (missionaries) there now and are having a great time. So far all the ones this week, not a one is contracted the virus," he said. He added that he knows it's not realistic for anyone to get it. He knows first-hand how serious the disease can be.

"It just so happens that two of our kids personally are in Haiti right now," he said. "Our oldest daughter has already had the virus and she's getting over it." His son has been luckier.

"We sent extra bug wipes, extra bug spray," he said. "It's a disease that is transferred by the bite of a mosquito, so if you're not bit by mosquitoes you're not going to catch the virus." Prevention is also what they've been preaching to those who are considering a future trip.

Melber said the good that's being done in Haiti still outweighs the risk of this virus.

"The world this full of needs physical needs, emotional needs, and spiritual needs. "The most important is people need a savior and that person is Jesus Christ."

The virus can only spread to humans if an infected mosquito bites someone. It cannot spread human to human. Symptoms include high fever, chills, joint pain and a rash that can last up four days.

State health officials say the virus could become more prevalent in Kentucky because the state is home to both species of mosquitoes that can carry the virus.

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