Heading to the Caribbean for Spring Break? What Columbia Area Residents Need to Know About Chikungunya.

Author: Mosquito Squad of Columbia

A funny sounding name for a painful virus with no treatment, Chikungunya is raising concern in the US.  Although there have been no confirmed cases of Chikungunya in the United States yet, the virus is spread by a mosquito common in the Southeast US – the Aedes mosquito or the Asian Tiger Mosquito.

Both Chikungunya and Dengue originated in Africa.  They have now spread to the Western Hemisphere.  In December 2013 over 300 cases of Chikungunya were reported on the Caribbean island of St. Martin.  The New York Times recently reported, “Already, the travel search engine Kayak said there was a 75 percent decline in searches for St. Martin in the past three weeks, compared to the same period last year.”  They went on to say, “Searches for Martinique, which has had 364 confirmed Chikungunya cases, were down 18 percent.”  The virus has now spread to four other islands in the Caribbean.  Cases now number more than 2,000.

Experts predict the virus will continue to spread.  This particular mosquito-borne virus builds up quickly in its victim’s bloodstream.  Local mosquitoes biting infected humans get the virus easily.  Infected mosquitoes then spread the virus when biting other victims.  Because of this high-risk of spreading the disease, it is very important infected victims not be bitten.

There is no vaccine or medical treatment for Chikungunya.  Healthcare providers recommend medicine to reduce fever and inflammation.  Plenty of liquids and rest are also important.  Symptoms usually appear within 4 to 8 days after infection.  For some, symptoms may begin as early as 2 days and as late as 12 days after infection.  The most common symptoms are fever and severe joint pain in the hands and feet.  Other symptoms are headache, nausea, fatigue and muscle pain.

It remains to be seen how many cases will occur in the US from travelers returning from Caribbean vacations.  Although easily spread, the CDC believes that once being infected with Chikungunya may provide victim with future immunity.  Unfortunately, the joint pain can remain for years.  The word Chikungunya is translated from a Tanzanian language to mean “contorted” or “bending upward” due to its effect on victim’s joints.

As with any mosquito-borne disease, prevention is the first step.  Mosquitoes carry several viruses and protozoa, a type of parasite.  The diseases mosquitoes carry are transmitted to our family, as well as our pets.  Elimination of mosquitoes through treatments such as Mosquito Squad’s barrier spray are the most effective way to reduce our risk of these diseases in areas we spend the most time.

You can expect Mosquito Squad’s effective treatment service to reduce the number of mosquitoes on your property by 85-90%.  The same treatment we use for mosquitoes also eliminates ticks, another frequent carrier of diseases in the summer months.

Mosquito Squad of Columbia is a proud supporter of Malaria No More. We are committed to saving 250,000 lives over the next 3 years one child at a time.