The Chikungunya virus is normally found in sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but it’s reportedly spreading across the United States and at least one prominent politician is calling on the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to act.
In a statement calling the mosquito-borne disease “excruciating,” Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) asked the CDC to issue “an immediate health alert for medical professionals in New York and around the country.”
“Chikungunya has now officially reached Long Island, and the feds must act before this debilitating virus spreads further,” Schumer warned. “There are a number of ways that Chik-V can be treated and contained, and it is critical that the CDC issue a health alert so that doctors can be on the look-out for this virus, better identify and treat symptoms and prevent its spread.”
According to the CDC — which is publicly tracking the disease — the first Chikungunya case acquired in the United States was in Florida on July 17 and there have been several hundred cases in total. The CDC described the virus as painful but nonfatal.
“Infection with chikungunya virus is rarely fatal, but the joint pain can often be severe and debilitating. This virus is not spread person to person. There is no vaccine and no specific treatment for infection, but research is underway in both areas,” the agency said after the July case.
But merely tracking the disease isn’t enough for Schumer, who also called on the Department of Homeland Security to declare a “public emergency” for the virus so the country “can deploy specific protocols and resources at our borders and elsewhere to prevent the spread of the virus in the U.S.”
Schumer, who is well known for making headlines for himself around possible public health threats, previously warned of the soccer fans bringing the disease back with them to the United States from the World Cup in Brazil.
The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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