Chikungunya Fever. What is it? How do you get it? Should you be concerned? What are the symptoms? What do you do if you think you have it? How do you prevent your exposure to it?
The name "Chikungunya" sounds like a foreign sickness that is from days gone by or is only a worry on tropical islands. Outbreaks of this virus have been reported in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific and Indian Oceans. In 2013 it was confirmed in the islands of the Caribbean, bringing it to this continent. With its recent confirmation in Florida it is now, unfortunately, a name and virus that every Florida resident should be made aware of. Just like with any illness or condition, knowledge regarding it is the key to understanding and preventing it.
The American Center for Disease Control (CDC) defines Chikungunya Fever as “a virus that is transmitted to people by mosquitoes”. Although this virus is rarely fatal, its symptoms can be disabling and often severe. The most common symptoms come to light usually within 3-7 days of the initial bite. They are:
Fever (often upwards of 102 degrees)
Joint pain and swelling
Rash -raised and spotted lesions
Most healthy people start to recover and feel better within a week. Higher risk people include, but are not limited to, newborns, adults of 65+ years, and people with chronic medical conditions. If you suspect that you or someone you know may have been infected with this virus your doctor can diagnose it with a simple blood test. The treatment for this virus is to lessen the discomfort of the symptoms:
Get plenty of rest
Drink fluids to prevent dehydration
Take medicines such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen to help relieve the fever and joint pain- as per your doctor’s recommendations.
Prevention of the transmission of this virus is as simple as lessening your exposure and availability to be bitten by mosquitoes. Here are a few of the most common tips to preventing mosquito bites:
Use effective insect repellent. Click here for repellent information from the CDC.
Wear comfortable loose fitting clothing to cover and protect your skin from mosquito bites.
Remove and prevent all standing water from your property to discourage desired mosquito habitat.
Be sure all insect screens on windows and doors are free of tears and holes to help keep your home mosquito free.
Preventing mosquitoes from being a part of your home and property is a huge step to limiting your exposure to Chikungunya Fever. More information of the virus, it's symptoms and treatments are available at the Florida Public Health Website. Protect yourself and your loved ones by becoming informed and educated about the prevention, recognition and treatment of Chikungunya Fever. To learn more about how McCall can help you manage mosquitoes on your property click here.