Special to the Civic Association: Dr. Earl Campazzi.
The recent confirmation of local transmission of chikungunya in Palm Beach County has important implications for residents. Chikungunya is an unpleasant viral disease spread by mosquitoes.
It is rarely fatal, but has symptoms similar to a bad case of the flu with a simultaneous severe arthritis flare. In the acute phase, the patient experiences several days to a week of pain, weakness and fever.
Worse yet, 1 in 5 who contract chikungunya will suffer arthritic pain that may persist for months or even years. The probability of prolonged joint and muscle pain is even higher in the elderly.
If you are just hearing about chikungunya, you are not alone. The virus has largely been spreading in Africa for the last 50 years.
First reported in the Western hemisphere in December 2013, chikungunya is so contagious it took just 9 months to grow in the Americas from one case to over 500,000. The bite of just one infected mosquito causes disease 50% to 60% of the time.
Mosquito control, especially during an outbreak, is critical to controlling the spread of chikungunya. The Aedes aegypti mosquito which spreads this strain of the disease travels no more than 500 meters during its life and breeds in stagnant water. It is important to drain places that collect water on your property.
Screened enclosures should be checked for tears and repaired. Insect repellant containing DEET is the most effective along with wearing loose long-sleeved clothing. Bites by this mosquito are most common at dusk and dawn but can occur at any time. Another resource is your local government which may have a mosquito control program. These programs range from providing local assessment upon resident request to aerial or street spraying of infested areas.
It is important to see a physician if you become ill because symptoms of chikungunya mimic those of rare but dangerous diseases such as dengue fever. There is no vaccine or medication for chikungunya.
The good news is, however, that you may be able to escape getting the virus by avoiding mosquito bites. Researchers are working on a vaccine for life-long immunity from chikungunya, and they are optimistic that the vaccine may be developed within two years.
For More Information go to Dr. Campazzi’s Website: www.HealthAha.com