On July 2, 2014, the first case of someone being infected by the Chikungunya virus was confirmed by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.
A mosquito-borne virus endemic to Africa, Asia and various islands in the Pacific and Indian Ocean, Chikungunya is transmitted by mosquitoes carrying the virus in their saliva. When infected mosquitoes insert their mandible/maxillae apparatus into the skin of a human, the exchange of mosquito saliva with human blood sends the virus directly into the bloodstream.
Symptoms of Chikungunya Disease
Within three to seven days of being bitten, infected people will start to feel like they are coming down with the flu. Joint pain, fatigue, aching muscles, nausea, rash, fever and vomiting can last anywhere from several days to two weeks. Since Chikungunya is a virus, antibiotics will not eradicate the infection. Recommended treatment consists of the same supportive care prescribed for influenza–bed rest, increasing fluid intake and taking NSAIDs to relieve pain and fever.
Complications of Chikungunya Disease
Although symptoms of Chikungunya can sometimes be severe, the disease is rarely fatal and most people feel better about a week after symptoms emerge. However, field researchers in Africa and Asia report that even after the virus has run its course, patients may experience prolonged joint pain that can last a month or more. Additionally, virologists think that suffering Chikungunya disease one time is likely to protect an individual from future infections.
How Do You Know If You Contract Chikungunya?
Chikungunya symptoms are very similar to dengue fever symptoms. Blood tests are really the only way to confirm a case of chikungunya. In addition, you should always tell your physician if you have recently visited countries where Chikungunya is endemic. Read about current outbreaks of Chikungunya at the CDC’s Traveler’s Health website.)
Protect Yourself Against Chikungunya Disease
Wearing insect repellent, long sleeves and avoiding swampy areas where mosquitoes tend to migrate may help prevent contraction of the virus. However, if your property seems particularly infested with mosquitoes due to nearby water sources or weed overgrowth, Assured Environments recommends spraying for mosquitoes to minimize the risk of contracting the Chikungunya virus. In addition, create an environment that provides an unlikely habitat for these pests. Removing stagnant water (such as kiddie pools, ponds, or at least have a solid cover) are one way to prevent mosquitoes from making your garden their home. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Youtube for more tips how to stay healthy this summer season.