A viral disease called chickungunya is now being spread by mosquitoes in the US. Oh great…one more thing to worry about with mosquito bites.
Have you heard about chickungunya?
The first outbreak of the disease was in southern Tanzania in 1952. The name ‘chikungunya’ is from a word in the Kimakonde language (spoken in southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique) that means “to become contorted” or “that which bends up”.
It describes the stooped appearance of sufferers with joint pain. Signs and symptoms also include a sudden start of fever often accompanied by joint pain. Other symptoms are muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. The joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually lasts for a few days.
Most infected patients recover fully, but in some cases joint pain may persist for several weeks or months, or even years. The good news is that deaths from chikungunya are rare.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chikungunya (CHIKVI) has occurred in Africa, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
In late 2013, CHIKVI was found for the first time on islands in the Caribbean.
NOTE: In California, the mosquito Aedes albopictus (one of the types that spread CHIKV) are found in Southern and Central California.
Its habitat are small containers and old tires.
As there are no known vaccine or medication, the CDC advice is to reduce your exposure by:
- staying indoors
- using mosquito repellent on exposed skins
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Considering permethrin-treated clothing (Permethrin is a pesticide that kills or repels mosquitos and ticks. More information on permethrin at the National Pesticide Information Center)
- emptying standing water from outdoor containers
- supporting local vector control (programs that reduce or eliminate diseases transmitted by birds and insects). Access Monterey County, California Pest and Vector Control Information here.
There are currently no antiviral medicines to treat the chikungunya virus. However, there are medicines to reduce the fever and pain experienced by those exposed to the virus. For more details, visit the CDC’s website about chikungunya, here.
Also visit Monterey County Mosquito website, here: Excerpt:
The yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti is a mosquito that can spread the dengue fever, chikungunya and yellow fever viruses, and other diseases. The mosquito can be recognized by white markings on legs and a marking in the form of a lyre on the thorax. The mosquito originated in Africa but is now found in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world, now including many parts of California.
And by the way, there is also a measles outbreak now, which originated in the Philippines! Over forty-thousand cases were reported in the Philippines between January to May, 2014. More on the measles outbreak, here, including information on what travelers can do to protect themselves if traveling to the Philippines.
Blog post information source from the U.S. CDC and World Health Organization (WHO)