Infectious Diseases

Public Health Laboratories Respond to Chikungunya

Public health laboratories in California, Florida and New York are ready to test for potential cases of chikungunya.

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Status Report​

The Florida State Public Health Laboratory detected the first two cases of locally acquired chikungunya virus in the United States. The cases occurred in Miami Dade and Palm Beach County. Following positive confirmation at the Division of Vector-borne Diseases, CDC announced these findings on July 17.

Public health officials have anticipated the spread of chikungunya to the United States for over a year and have made extensive preparations to control the disease, which entered the Western Hemisphere seven months ago. CDC expects that transmission in the United States will follow the pattern of dengue virus, which has led to sporadic local transmission but no widespread outbreak.

Testing Capacity at Public Health Laboratories

Public health laboratories in three, strategically located states – California, Florida and New York -- are ready to test for potential cases of chikungunya. These laboratories are collaborating with state health agencies and CDC to ensure that testing is conducted promptly and efficiently. Rapid diagnosis of infections is critical to implementation of disease control measures. Other public health laboratories are working to build testing capacity as quickly as possible, and APHL is facilitating sharing of specimens and other materials between laboratories to aid in this process.

How Labs Test for Chikungunya

Public health laboratories rely on two types of tests to detect the chikungunya virus: a molecular test that detects viral DNA (RT-PCR test, used in the first eight days of illness); and a test that detects antibodies to the virus in blood (IgM test, used at four days or later from the onset of illness). CDC has sole responsibility for confirmatory antibody testing.