SHE Carribean Magazine - - CONTENTS -

Keep­ing you healthy and trim.

It’s likely that 2014 will be re­mem­bered in the Caribbean as the year of chikun­gunya – a pre­vi­ously lit­tle-known virus which be­came a house­hold name as it spread through­out the re­gion. How­ever, by Au­gust, health of­fi­cials in the USA were re­port­ing that for the first time, U.S. mos­qui­tos were spread­ing the virus. Two peo­ple in Florida were re­ported to have ac­quired chikun­gunya in­fec­tions do­mes­ti­cally; in both cases a per­son in­fected with the virus after vis­it­ing the Caribbean was then bit­ten again by an un­in­fected mos­quito in Florida, which then trans­mit­ted the ill­ness fur­ther.

“The ar­rival of chikun­gunya virus, first in the trop­i­cal Amer­i­cas and now in the United States, un­der­scores the risks posed by this and other ex­otic pathogens,” said Roger Nasci of the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion, in a pre­pared state­ment.

Chikun­gunya virus is rarely fa­tal. In­fected peo­ple typ­i­cally suf­fer fever, se­vere joint pain and swelling, mus­cle aches, headaches, rash or a com­bi­na­tion of symp­toms. The name is de­rived from the Tan­ganyikan lan­guage, Ki­makonde, and means “that which bends up,” de­scrib­ing the de­bil­i­tat­ing pain in­fected peo­ple suf­fer. Pa­tients usu­ally re­cover in about a week, although some peo­ple suf­fer long-term joint pain. There is no vac­cine and no spe­cific treat­ment.


Chikun­gunya is a vi­ral dis­ease trans­mit­ted to hu­mans by in­fected mos­qui­toes. It causes fever and se­vere joint pain. Other symp­toms in­clude mus­cle pain, headache, nau­sea, fa­tigue and rash. This virus is not spread per­son to per­son, but rather by the bite of the Asian tiger mos­quito (Aedes al­bopic­tus) or the yel­low fever mos­quito (Aedes ae­gypti). The dis­ease shares some clin­i­cal signs with dengue, and can be mis­di­ag­nosed in ar­eas where dengue is common. There is no cure for the dis­ease. The only ad­vice for avoid­ing in­fec­tion is to avoid mos­quito bites. Treat­ment is fo­cused on re­liev­ing the symp­toms. The prox­im­ity of mos­quito breed­ing sites to hu­man habi­ta­tion is a sig­nif­i­cant risk fac­tor for chikun­gunya. Since 2004, chikun­gunya fever has reached epi­demic proportions, with con­sid­er­able mor­bid­ity and suf­fer­ing. The dis­ease oc­curs in Africa, Asia and the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent. In re­cent decades mos­quito vec­tors of chikun­gunya have spread to Europe and the Amer­i­cas. In 2007, dis­ease trans­mis­sion was re­ported for the first time in a lo­cal­ized out­break in north-east­ern Italy.


Use mos­quito re­pel­lent on ex­posed skin. Wear long sleeves shirts and pants. Have se­cure screens on win­dows and doors to keep mos­qui­toes out. Get rid of mos­quito breed­ing sites by emp­ty­ing stand­ing wa­ter from flower pots, buck­ets and bar­rels. Change the wa­ter in pet dishes and re­place the wa­ter in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so wa­ter drains out. Ad­di­tion­ally, a per­son with chikun­gunya fever should limit their ex­po­sure to mos­quito bites in or­der to avoid fur­ther spread­ing the in­fec­tion. The per­son should stay in­doors or un­der a mos­quito net.

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