ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is asking the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a health alert to medical professionals in New York and around the country for identifying, treating and containing the chikungunya, or “chik-v,” virus, a mosquito-borne illness that causes fevers, joint and muscle pain, headaches, joint swelling and rashes.
One of the mosquito species carrying the virus and responsible for disease transmission is prevalent in Brazil.
“We have to prevent the spread of this virus before it reaches the United States in large numbers,” Schumer told reporters, including 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck, on Sunday.
“The problem here is the World Cup gives the unfortunate opportunity for the virus to spread among people from all nations of the world who are together,” Schumer said.
The virus is rarely fatal, but it can create arthritic-like joint pain that become chronic.
Schumer said there have been three confirmed cases in New York and 25 in Florida, and numbers could increase dramatically with the return of soccer fans from the World Cup.
So far, all of the infected Americans have contracted the virus in parts of the world where it is common.
Prior outbreaks have occurred in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Late last year, the virus was found for the first time on the Caribbean islands, where more than 100,000 people have been sickened.
“This is not a fatal infection; it’s just a miserable infection,” Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of Vanderbilt University’s Department of Preventive Medicine, told CBS 2 earlier this month.
Schumer is also calling on U.S. Department of Homeland Security to increase border safeguards, citing the developing threat in the Caribbean, where more than 100,000 people have been affected.
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