WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., June 13 (UPI) -- North Carolina health officials reported the state's first case of chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne disease that causes fever and joint pain.
The infected person acquired the virus while in the Caribbean, the Forsyth County Department of Public Health said.
The case reported Thursday was one of 27 confirmed cases in the country, none of which were acquired within the continental United States.
The introduction of the virus in the United States and an outbreak of more than 100,000 cases in the Caribbean this year has some health officials concerned.
Prior to late 2013, the disease had never been seen in the Americas, the Centers for Disease Control website said.
"There is a risk that the virus will be imported to new areas by infected travelers," the website reported.
The chikungunya virus is transmitted by mosquito bites, specifically the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.
Dr. William Shaffner, an infectious disease expert with Vanderbilt University in Nashville, said the spread of the disease can be slowed by taking measures to prevent mosquito population and interaction with humans.
"We live in a largely air-conditioned environment, and we have a lot of screening (window screens, porch screens)," he said. "So we can separate the humans from the mosquito population, but we cannot be completely be isolated."
The CDC says symptoms of chikungunya generally appear between three and seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms include fever and joint pain, as well as headache, muscle pain, joint swelling and rash.
The virus typically doesn't result in death and can be treated with rest, hydration and pain medication. Patients tend to feel better after about a week.