PITT COUNTY -

Pitt County has its first case of Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne virus that causes fever, joint pain, swelling and other symptoms.

According to a news release from Pitt County Friday, the case of Chikungunya was confirmed in a resident who recently traveled to the Caribbean with family members. No other details on the victim were released.

Chikungunya is not spread directly from person to person. Rather, the virus is spread through the bites of infected Asian tiger mosquitoes.

The Asian tiger mosquito is commonly found in North Carolina, health officials said.

Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person who is already infected with the virus, according to the Pitt County release. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites.

SYMPTOMS:

Within three to seven days of being bitten, infected individuals will experience fever and joint pain. They may also experience headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash, said health officials.

Chikungunya is rarely fatal, but symptoms can be severe or disabling, health officials said. Most people begin to feel better within a week. But some may suffer the effects for months.

Antibiotics will not treat Chikungunya there is no vaccine to prevent it.

So far, North Carolinians with Chikungunya have all been infected while visiting other countries.

According to health officials, outbreaks of the virus have occurred in Africa, Asia, Italy, islands of the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific, and most recently in several Caribbean islands.

Recently, mosquitoes in Florida have been found to carry Chikungunya and have transmitted the virus to the state's residents.

TIPS FOR PREVENTION:

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has released recommendations to help prevent the spread of Chikungunya.  All Pitt County residents are encouraged to follow the recommendations:

-Stay indoors when mosquitoes are most active. The Aedes mosquito is an aggressive daytime biter, especially in the morning and early evening hours.

-If you need to go outdoors when mosquitoes are active, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

-Apply DEET or other EPA-approved mosquito repellents to exposed skin areas, following manufacturer’s instructions.

-Practice these frequent “Tip and Toss” activities as breeding occurs heavily in residential areas:

1. Remove any containers that can hold water — especially old tires;

2. Repair leaky outdoor faucets and change the water in bird baths and pet bowls at least twice a week;

3. Cover rain barrels with tight-fitting screens or lids;

-Keep gutters clean and in good repair;

-Inspect tarps on things such as woodpiles and drain any standing water;

-Stock ornamental ponds (if they cannot be drained) with fish that will eat mosquito larvae or treat the water with products that will kill mosquito larvae, available at your local hardware store.  Follow the label directions carefully; and

-Use screened windows and doors and make sure screens are not torn fit and tightly.