What Is Chikungunya?

What Is Chikungunya? on

How this disease spread by mosquitos can be debilitating

We often hear about outbreaks of mosquito-related diseases like the West Nile virus, Zika virus, or malaria, the latter at least in other countries. Chikungunya is a lesser-known disease that is also spread by mosquito bites. This condition can cause debilitating effects, like joint pain that leads to arthritis.

What else should you know about the disease? Here’s an overview:

What is chikungunya and how is it spread?

As with the other diseases mentioned above, chikungunya (which is a virus) is spread by mosquito bites. Just one bite can infect a person with the disease.

It can be spread to others if a mosquito then bites an infected person, thus pulling their blood, and then bites someone else. This is why it’s important to continue to prevent mosquito bites even after you’ve been infected.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is currently no vaccine or medication that prevents the disease. And there is no real treatment for patients, only measures that can ease the symptoms. Preventing mosquito bites is the only way to avoid contracting chikungunya. And only a blood test can provide an accurate diagnosis.

However, once someone has been infected with the virus, they are more likely to be protected from future infections. As with similar diseases, those at the highest risk for severe symptoms are newborns, older adults over age 65, and those with other medical conditions.

What are the symptoms and effects of chikungunya?

Common symptoms of the illness are fever, joint and muscle pain, swelling of joints, rash, fatigue, and headache. These symptoms will usually start three to seven days after a mosquito infects the person.

There are growing reports that indicate half of the patients with the virus experience an extremely severe form of arthritis. This is because the virus grabs molecular handles, or receptors, located on joint cells, which causes severe joint swelling or pain.

Since this finding was revealed, researchers have been trying to create “fake” handles the virus could hold onto to prevent the debilitating arthritic pain. While these debilitating symptoms can become chronic in chikungunya patients, lasting more than a year, many cases have shown the symptoms clear up within a week. It’s uncommon for the virus to lead to death.

Where did chikungunya originate?

The virus was first reported in Africa, Asia, Europe, and islands in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. In 2013, the virus was then reported in the Caribbean. Since then, almost 2 million cases have been reported throughout the North and South America. The disease has now been spread to over a quarter of the world’s countries.

The CDC still recommends that travelers take precautions to prevent mosquito bites in any of these areas.

What are common preventative measures?

Because preventing mosquito bites is currently the only way to avoid contracting the virus, it’s important to do everything you can to deter the insects.

Suggestions from the CDC include:

  • Covering any exposed skin.
  • Using insect repellant with higher percentages of active ingredients for longer protection. Effective ingredients include:

• DEET

• Picaridin

• Oil of lemon eucalyptus

• IR3535

  • Following all product directions.
  • Reapplying and ensuring you apply sunscreen before insect repellant.
  • Using permethrin-treated clothing and outdoor gear.
  • Sleeping in screened-in rooms or places with air conditioning.
  • Using a bed net if sleeping outdoors.

By following these measures, travelers will hopefully be able to avoid mosquito bites altogether, since they may be carrying chikungunya or other dangerous diseases.

How can chikungunya be treated?

Because there are no known treatments for chikungunya, doctors often recommend getting lots of rest, drinking fluids, and taking acetaminophen as a pain reliever to reduce fever. Since the virus is rarely fatal, again, treatments are focused on relieving symptoms more than addressing the virus itself.

Diseases carried by mosquitos, like chikungunya, Zika virus, malaria, or West Nile virus can be severe and sometimes fatal. You want to ensure your home is adequately protected from mosquitos. If you’re tired of applying all those bug sprays and lotions and realize that candles just don’t work that well, you’ll want to try our automatic misting system for your home or workplace.

Set up the system in your backyard so you can host without worry of pesky mosquitos. It blends in with your space and turns on automatically, so you don’t even have to think about it. Or, you can implement the system in your business’s outdoor spaces to protect customers. We also provide misting solutions for places like stables and kennels to keep mosquitos away from animals, where they can be rampant.

Get in touch with us today at Platinum Mosquito Protection to learn more about how this technology can work for you.

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