Chikungunya, (pronunciation: chik-en-gun-ye) is a mosquito-borne virus found in the Caribbean late last year.
Here’s what you need to know about this bully:
– The virus doesn’t appear to jump from human to human.
– Chikungunya first appeared in 1952 in southern Tanzania. Mosquitoes bit infected chimps or other animals and then bit humans and the cycle continued.
– conditions are prime for the illness to explode across the U.S. where two known mosquito species known to spread the disease are found in large quantities.
– The two mosquito species are, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.
Flu-like symptoms appear in 4 to 7 days and include the following:
– fever – muscle pain – headache – nausea – fatigue – rash and severe joint pain that can make walking or even shaking hands unbearable
– since there are no vaccines, fever-reducing medicines such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen are given
So far, 13-state public health officials report American travelers returning from the Caribbean have been stricken with symptoms consistent with Chkungunya:
– Arkansas – New York
– California – Nevada
– Connecticut – North Carolina
– Florida – Tennessee
– Indiana – Texas
– Maryland – Virginia
Here’s what we know about about these two mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito)
Aedes aegypti (yellow fever mosquito):
• Has bright silvery lyre-shaped dorsal pattern and white banded legs
• Occupies urban areas with or without vegetation
• Bites, rests, and lays eggs both indoors and outdoors
• Sneaky biter
• High preference for taking blood meals from humans and to lesser extent from domestic mammals
Aedes albopictus (Asian tiger mosquito)
• Has a single longitudinal silvery dorsal stripe and white banded legs
• Associated with thickets and arboreal vegetation
• Mostly an outdoor (garden) mosquito
• Bites humans but also a variety of available domestic and wild vertebrates
• Aggressive biter
• Utilizes water-filled containers around or further away from households
What you can do:
– make sure you empty containers containing standing water
– wear long-sleeve clothing and long-legged pants when outside, especially early mornings and at dusk
– if at all possible, mow your lawn a little later in the morning or early afternoon
– use a mosquito spray
Try to avoid traveling to the Caribbean and certain regions of Central and South America. If you must travel to these areas, please check with the Centers for Disease Control to find out if there are any travel alerts.