Maine health officials on Wednesday reported the first two cases in 2014 of infection from the chikungunya virus, which has been increasing across the country.
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a news release that one Maine resident contracted the virus while traveling to the Dominican Republic; the other had visited the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Neither individual required hospitalization and both are recovering.
The symptoms of the virus are typically fever, joint pain, headaches and rash. Symptoms can sometimes be debilitating, according to the CDC, but it is rarely fatal.
The chikungunya virus is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes and cannot be transmitted from person to person, so there is no risk that the virus will spread, according to the CDC.
There are other Maine cases under investigation but only two confirmed as of Wednesday.
Maine had one case last year, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced just this week that the number of cases nationally has been growing this year.
According to the federal CDC, there have been nearly 400 cases nationwide this year, one quarter of them in Florida. Another 200 were reported in Puerto Rico.
The virus has been present for years in Africa, Asia and Europe, and started appearing in the Caribbean last year.
“With the recent outbreaks in the Caribbean and the Pacific, the number of chikungunya cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States from affected areas will continue to increase,” the CDC said.
There is no vaccine or treatment for chikungunya infection and it usually lasts from two to seven days. Maine’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory offers testing for the virus.
Anyone who has traveled to the Caribbean and is concerned that they may have contracted the virus can contact the Maine CDC at (800) 821-5821. More information on the disease is available at: www.cdc.gov/chikungunya.