Doctors, scientists concerned over chikungunya virus outbreak

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Doctors and scientists are worried that a mosquito-borne illness with no known cure could spread this summer across the East Coast because of an unusually rainy spring./USDA Doctors and scientists are worried that a mosquito-borne illness with no known cure could spread this summer across the East Coast because of an unusually rainy spring./USDA Doctors and scientists are worried that a mosquito-borne illness with no known cure could spread this summer across the East Coast because of an unusually rainy spring.

The chikungunya virus has been reported in several states, including North Carolina, Tennessee and Rhode Island, where two weekend cases were reported.

The chikungunya virus causes a high fever and severe muscle and joint pain, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The illness begins about two to three days after infection, and most symptoms last about a week. However, joint and muscle pain could last for an extended period of time.

Chikungunya means “that which bends over” in the Makonde language.

Mosquitoes carry the chikungunya virus by biting a healthy person after biting an infected person.

The chikungunya virus is most commonly found in tropica areas of the world./USDA The chikungunya virus is most commonly found in tropica areas of the world./USDA Normally, the chikungunya virus infects about two dozen Americans annually. Most of those infections occur during visits to the Caribbean.

However, a an outbreak of 100,000 chikungunya cases this year in the Caribbean has worried officials that a greater number of American visitors may carry the virus back to the United States this year.

Fox News reported that there have been 25 cases reported in Florida. The CDC is monitoring potential cases and chikungunya outbreaks in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The virus thrives in wet conditions which were fueled by a wetter-than-normal April, May and June time period in South Jersey. Portions of Delaware, eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia have had 25 percent or more rain that normal since April.

How to prevent chikungunya virus

The CDC recommends these steps to prevent the spread of the chikungunya virus:

Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants and hats.

Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed.

Higher percentages of active ingredient provide longer protection. Use products with the following active ingredients: Deet, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535.

Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms.

Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.

If you are bitten by mosquitoes avoid scratching mosquito bites and apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to reduce itching.

Eliminate areas of standing water that provide breeding areas for mosquitoes. 


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