Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Chikungunya is not an exotic dish
It has spread throughout the Caribbean and is threatening th e livelihood of the world's most tourist-dependent area.
Originally discovered in Tanzania in the 1950s, in December 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported local transmission of chikungunya on the French side of Saint Martin. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with chikungunya and are spreading it to people. This is the first time that local transmission of chikungunya has been reported in the Americas.
It has affected more than 4,600 people in a little over six months, according to a reports from the Pan American Health Organization.
What is it?
Chikungunya is an illness caused by a virus that spreads through mosquito bites. The most common symptoms of chikungunya are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.
There is no cure for the disease. Though it’s not fatal, it causes fever, pain, fatigue and can lead to chronic joint pain.
The mosquito that carries chikungunya virus can bite during the day and night, both indoors and outdoors, and often lives around buildings in urban areas.
Where is it?
Africa, Asia, islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific and n ow the Caribbean. As of June 17, 2014, the following Caribbean countries have reported cases of chikungunya:
British Virgin Islands
Saint Martin (French)
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Sint Maarten (Dutch)
Turks and Caicos Islands
US Virgin Islands name.
What should I do?
Don't cancel your travel plans; chikungunya is in the U. S. too.
Do avoid mosquito bites which means traveling with and using mosquito repellents.
Consumer Reports recommends starting with plant-based repellents such as Repel Lemon Eucalyptus or Natrapel. If you use deet, which can cause serious reactions, stay with products using lower concentrations, never more than 30 percent deet. Better to apply and reapply a 15 percent deet product.