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Arizona at risk for new mosquito virus

PHOENIX — A mosquito-borne virus with a recent outbreak in the Caribbean has been reported in the U.S.

Chikungunya causes high fever and joint pain. There is no cure or vaccine, and it is new in the country.

Arizona health officials have not had any confirmed cases of chikungunya, but said it could only be a matter of time before they see it.

“There is a specific species of mosquito that can transmit chikungunya virus, and that mosquito lives in Arizona,” said Jessica Rigler, bureau chief of Epidemiology and Disease Control at the Arizona Departmentof Health Services.

Arizona’s growing mosquito population during the monsoon is a concern for Rigler.

“When we get a lot of rain, there is standing water, which creates a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” she said.

Even though the virus is not in Arizona yet, Rigler said residents should take extra precautions to prevent mosquito bites.

“It’s really important to remove standing water,” she said.

Rigler also said it’s important to cover up and use a mosquito repellant during the monsoon season.

“The biggest thing that people need to know is not to panic and to take the same common-sense prevention approaches they would for West Nile (Virus).”