Tags: Chikungunya | virus | mosquitoes | joint | pain | tropical | disease

Chikungunya Virus Is Here: Should You Be Worried?

By    |   Tuesday, 22 July 2014 07:24 AM

The Haitians call it “breaking bone” disease because the joint pain is so excruciating it feels like your bones are breaking.
 
And now the chikungunya virus, also known as CHIKV, has come to the United States, with the first cases of the mosquito-borne illness having spread locally in Florida. There is no effective treatment.
 
“I’ve had a broken bone before. This was more severe than a broken bone,” says Dr. Jen Halverson, who contracted the illness while traveling in Haiti.
 
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Dozens of American have come down with chikungunya (pronounced chick-en-gun-yuh) after traveling in the Caribbean this spring and summer, but now for the first time the virus is apparently spreading within the U.S.
 
Stanley Perlman, M.D., one of the world’s top infectious disease experts, tells Newsmax Health that it was just a matter of time before the devastating tropical disease landed on our shores because the pathogen can be carried by two types of mosquitoes common in the U.S.
 
“I expected this to happen. The disease is carried by mosquitoes that live in the U.S., and this is the way these things work,” says Dr. Perlman, professor of microbiology and pediatrics at the University of Iowa.
 
CHIKV is common in central and southern Africa, southern Asia, and it spread to 17 Caribbean countries this year. Cases have also been reported in Italy and France.
 
“I think it will become a big deal in the U.S. When we had outbreaks of West Nile virus, we certainly had a lot of trouble with it, and I think this will be the same sort of thing,” says Dr. Perlman.
 
West Nile, also carried by mosquitoes, was first identified in Uganda in 1937, but it didn’t spread to the U.S. until 1999, when it was found in New York City. During the next five years, it moved across the country, north into Canada, and south to the Caribbean and into Latin America.
 
Since then, there have been periodic outbreaks in the U.S. of West Nile virus. In 2012, it killed 286 Americans, with Texas the hardest-hit state.
 
Unlike West Nile, CHIKV is rarely fatal, but it is extremely painful – and joint pain can become chronic, lasting for months or years. “The fact that there is no vaccine to prevent it and no treatment for it makes it a serious concern,” Dr. Perlman says.
 
“The disease will probably spread in the Southeast first,” he adds.
 
The two types of mosquitoes that commonly carry CHIKV are Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus. Ae. aegypti is confined to the tropics and sub-tropics, but Ae. albopictus can survive in cold weather, which makes it possible that chikungunya will hit even the northern U.S.
 
It takes up to a week for symptoms to appear after a person has been bitten by an infected mosquito. There is usually an abrupt onset of fever accompanied by the characteristic severe joint pain. Rash, fatigue, nausea, headache, and muscle pain are also common.
 
CHIKV is diagnosed with an antibody blood test. Treatment is directed at relieving the symptoms. 
 
The U.S. Centers for Disease and Control and Prevention has issued the following advice for avoiding CHIKV:
·         Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. 
·         Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your home by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots.
 
·         Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
 
·         Use insect repellents. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol are the most effective. If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply sunscreen first and then repellent.
 
·         Do not spray repellent on skin under clothing. 

Editor’s Note: 3 Secrets to Never Get Sick Again. Get Super Immunity for Only $4.95. Click here.

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Headline
The Haitians call it "breaking bone" disease because the joint pain is so excruciating it feels like your bones are breaking. And now the chikungunya virus, also known as CHIKV, has come to the United States, with the first cases of the mosquito-borne illness having spread...
Chikungunya, virus, mosquitoes, joint, pain, tropical, disease
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2014-24-22
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 07:24 AM
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