Mosquito Borne Chikungunya Virus Showing up in the United States

Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya Virus Showing Up in the United States

A mosquito-borne illness known as the chikungunya virus has rapidly spread over the Caribbean and now many cases of the disease have also started to show up the United States, including nearly 30 in the state of Florida. The illness has hit travelers who caught it while they were out of the U.S., stated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC and experts had said that it is only a matter of time before the virus begins spreading between mosquitoes inside the States.

The chikungunya virus was first identified in Tanzania back in the early 1950’s. Since that time chikungunya had mainly stayed deep in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Arabian Peninsula except for sporadic cases showing up in America when a traveler returned from the before mentioned places.

But this all changed in 2013, when medical specialists discovered that continued transmission of the chikungunya virus had happened in the Caribbean. That means that people who lived on the islands were coming to be infected by indigenous mosquitoes. This meant the virus had become widespread, with nearly 20 different countries in the Caribbean releasing statements of residents having come down with the disease. With the large total of travelers from the U.S. who choose to vacation in the tropics every year, health specialists think chikungunya will soon spread past the Caribbean and move on to neighboring continents.

Dr. Jorge Parada, who is a medical director of an infection prevention program in Chicago and is also a medical spokesperson, explained that the mosquitoes that spread the chikungunya infection are very common all over the world and that is why the infection has zoomed across the tropical Pacific and now is in the Caribbean. Therefore there is no reason why it will not continue moving to more parts of South America and the southern U.S.

Most people in the United States do not know what chikungunya even is and they could be facing it. Dr. Parada described the virus as being a viral infection transferred to humans by mosquitoes that are infected. The doctor explained that these types of mosquitoes, which are carriers, are prevalent across the Americas and usually bite in the day instead of nighttime. They are different from other mosquitoes that spread sickness, such as the ones accountable for malaria. These types can be found in urban expanses and are able to flourish in large cities.

Infection of the chikungunya virus happens when an individual is bitten by a mosquito that has formerly fed on another infected person. When a diseased individual has the virus circulating in his or her bloodstream, the mosquito sucks his or her blood, gets the virus, and when it feeds again, there is always some level of spewing up of the previous meal, stated Dr. Parada, and then the mosquito injects the new person with the virus and so she or he becomes infected.

Once an individual has been diseased, there is an incubation period of between three and seven days before symptoms begin. The most common virus signs are pain in the joints and fever, typically in numerous joints. Like most viral diseases, chikungunya may also cause headaches, rash, muscle aches, joint swelling and rash.

Chikungunya does not have a cure, and the viruses effects can be extremely debilitating, especially for the older population. While some people will only have minor joint pain and low fevers that disappear after a week or so, others may suffer from high fevers and have severe pain in their joints that may last for weeks or even months.

Since there is no a cure or even any therapy to effectively treat chikungunya, Dr. Parada declared the best course of action against the virus is prevention, and that is to try and avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes. The U.S. has better mosquito control than the majority of other nations, due to the fact that many Americans reside in homes that are air conditioned and that have filters and screens to keep insects out.

However on a personal level, people can lessen mosquito exposure by wearing protective clothing, using insect sprays and staying inside when temperatures are very hot. People should also stay from any standing water that might be close to their homes, as this can be perfect mosquito breeding sites.

If someone does become infected with the virus, he or she should see his or her primary care physician and then attempt to wait out the symptoms. Any over-the-counter pain medications may help alleviate the symptoms, but, as was stated above, there is no treatment or cure for the virus. In addition, infected individuals may be able to help stop the viruses’ spread by taking extra safeguards to avoid mosquitoes altogether.

The sickened person needs to make an extra effort not to get bitten again while ill, stated Dr. Parada. That individual could be a major source of infection for many others. The doctors added that he was sure that the sickened people were thinking just the opposite, that they had become ill, who cares about anyone else, what does it matter? However they are sick and may not be thinking straight. They need to remember that they honestly do not want others to get sick.

As of this article’s writing, there have only been isolated cases of chikungunya in the United States and so far there have been no reports of any sustained transmission, so people do not need to begin panicking just yet. No the infection is not fun but a person is not going to die from it, declared Dr. Parada. Many people have said it is more painful than having the flu, but unlike the flu, chikungunya will not kill a person, at least says the doctor.

The chikungunya virus, which causes a person to experience high fevers and extreme pain, has begun to rapidly spread over the Caribbean. Now, many cases of the disease have also started to show up the United States, including nearly 30 in the state of Florida. The illness has hit travelers who caught it while they were out of the U.S., stated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC and experts had said that it is only a matter of time before the chikungunya virus begins spreading between mosquitoes inside the States.

By Kimberly Ruble

Sources:

CNN

WebMD

FOX News

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