SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Report shows increased chikungunya cases in U.S.

A recent study conducted by scientists at Quest Diagnostics found that more patients in the U.S. are testing, and testing positive, for the chikungunya virus.

The study, presented at the Interscience Conference on Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in Washington, D.C., is believed to be the first of its kind conducted by a commercial clinical laboratory since the 2013 outbreak of chikungunya in the Caribbean raised concerns of its possible spread to North America.

The researchers said that while there is not a cause for alarm in the U.S. regarding the disease, the study has value in terms of better diagnosing chikungunya and other diseases.

"With these insights, public health authorities and the medical community will be better positioned to reliably identify infected patients, provide appropriate supportive care and differentiate from other infections, such as dengue fever, that can have a similar clinical presentation," Hollis Batterman, the medical director for Quest's Focus Diagnostics clinical laboratory and the lead author of the study, said.

ArboNET, the national surveillance system for arthropod-borne diseases, said that as of Sept. 2 of this year, a total of 758 chikungunya cases were reported to it from U.S. states. The annual average of chikungunya cases recorded in the U.S. from 2006-2013 was 28, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.