June 20, 2014
The mosquito borne virus known as Chikungunya or CHIKV is appearing in popular summer vacation spots like the Caribbean and is being brought back to the U.S.
“Chikungunya is a disease that is an African term for bend over, because people feel really bad when they have it,” says Jennifer McQuiston, science advisor for the Center of Disease Control (CDC).
The CDC says the virus can cause headaches and severe joint pain and it is not fatal.
“However, the mosquitoes that transmit it also transmit another virus, known as dengue virus, and that can be fatal,” says McQuiston.
There have been several cases of the virus being brought back to Virginia, but Dr. Charles Devine from the Thomas Jefferson Health District says that as of right now the virus has not spread throughout the United States.
“Mosquito protection overseas, just as in the U.S., is very important because there are more mosquito borne illnesses available,” says Devine.
He also recommends stocking up on mosquito repellant before heading outside.
Health officials say that when looking for an insect repellant, you want to find something that's EPA approved.
As another mosquito precaution it's recommend that you wear long and loose clothing and avoiding places with small amounts of standing water.
“You want to make sure your property is free of small containers that can hold water for a week or more,” says Devine. “If the bird bath is out there and has water, it can be a breeding source for mosquitoes after a week has gone by.”
If you have standing water around your house, you should change the water weekly.
As of now there have been cases of CHIKV in people returning home in 15 states, including Virginia. The virus has yet to be transmitted throughout the U.S.