The Chikungunya virus is causing quite a problem in the Caribbean. According to NBC News, the painful, mosquito-borne infection is spreading rapidly with over 100,000 suspected or confirmed infections reported. Federal health officials say that the number of infected people has “nearly doubled over the past two weeks.”
According to the report:
“Chikungunya is not usually deadly, but it can cause a very bad headache, joint pain, rash and fever. Its name in the Makonde language, spoken in Tanzania and Mozambique in Africa, means ‘that which bends up,’ because patients are often contorted with pain. They can spend weeks in bed, racked with pain.”
The Chikungunya virus arrived in St. Martin in December. Since then, 17 countries or territories in the Caribbean or South America have seen infected patients. The Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes (commonly known as Asian tiger mosquitoes) are carriers and are found in the United States as far north as New York. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the Asian tiger mosquitoes caused quite a problem in New Jersey last summer. Since these insects are very aggressive — and are known to carry several serious viral diseases — many were worried about the influx.
At this time, however, there haven’t been any reported cases of the Chikungunya virus in the United States, but US health officials have warned this is a very possible scenario.
“The virus grows in human blood and when a mosquito bites an infected person, it can spread it to others. So an infected person can carry the virus to new places and it spreads that way.”
If you are worried about contracting Chikungunya virus, the CDC says that there are precautions that you can take. If you are traveling to a country where the virus is prevalent, using insect repellent should do the trick. You might also want to “wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.” Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent the virus nor is there medicine that works to treat it.
Countries that have reported cases of the virus include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Dominican Republic, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Martinique, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Maarten.
[Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Marie Arago]