HOUSTON, July 7 (Xinhua) -- Health officials in the U.S. state of Texas on Monday confirmed its first human case of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne illness newly emerging in the western hemisphere.
The state Health Department said Monday the disease was found in a patient who lives near Austin, capital city of the state, the Houston Chronicle reported.
The patient recently returned to Texas from a trip to the Caribbean, where the virus was detected late last year and now has been suspected or confirmed in about 135,000 people.
Texas joins 26 other U.S. states where the virus has been confirmed, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, no local spread of the virus has been reported in the continental United States.
Chikungunya is a viral disease which spreads to people by mosquitoes. It is not transmitted from direct person to person contact. Infections are rarely fatal but can cause severe joint pain, high fever, head and muscle aches, joint swelling and rash.
Public health officials are concerned the virus could explode in the United States because two mosquito species known to spread the disease are abundant in the country.
The name chikungunya comes from Africa, where the virus was discovered more than 60 years ago. It translates to "that which bends up," a reference to people contorting with joint pain.
Chikungunya cases have occurred in Africa, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.