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Tip of the Week: Mosquitoes Spreading Chikungunya Virus in the United States

It is not uncommon for mosquitoes to be transmitters of disease. You may have heard of serious mosquito born  illnesses such as West Nile Virus and Malaria, and now most recently Chikungunya (chik-en-gun-ye) virus.  This is a viral illness that was discovered for the first time in 2013 in Caribbean countries and South America, and will likely spread to other areas.   

Chikungunya Virus is now being carried into the United States by travelers in and out of the Caribbean where the virus is rampant.  Reports of the virus in Florida, North Carolina, Nebraska and Indiana were confirmed and with new suspected cases the Center for Disease Control is keeping an eye on chikungunya in Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These cases have not been transmitted by local mosquitoes, which would make the risk of the virus establishing itself in the United States larger.  The symptoms include high fever, joint pain and headaches.  Symptoms usually start to show within 3 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.  This virus is not deadly and the symptoms usually filter away within a week.  There is no vaccine but medications can help to treat the fever. 

You can try to prevent Chikungunya by avoiding mosquito bites by using mosquito repellent, wearing long sleeve shirts and pants to cover exposed skin, and getting rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water in flower pots, buckets and barrels.  If you have recently traveled to another country and are feeling ill you should notify your physician.  

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