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Chikungunya Virus: Important Facts & Prevention Tips

For anyone that is a traveler or looking to take a trip in the near future, it is always important to be informed about possible viruses that could be contracted.

The first case found in the United States off of the islands on the Caribbean in 2013, was a virus by the name of Chikungunya (pronounced chick/en/gun/ye).

Although the virus didn’t arrive to the America’s until quite recently, the virus has been believed to originate in the 1950s in Southern Tanzania. The virus can stay in a person’s system for about a week, which is why it is important to avoid being bitten by a mosquito during this critical time.

What are the treatments?

This is a mosquito carrying virus and currently has no vaccine or medication to treat.

Prevention

Because there are no current vaccines or treatment options for this virus, it is important to protect yourself when traveling to countries that have been known to carry the virus.

Areas that have handled Chikungunya outbreaks includes these countries:

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Indian & Pacific Oceans
  • Caribbean Countries & Territories

The best method of prevention is protecting yourself and others from mosquito bites.

Ways to protect from mosquito bites includes:

  • using air conditioning inside and avoiding keeping windows open
  • having window and door screens
  • emptying containers that contain standing water
  • wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
  • using insect repellent (specifically ones that contain: DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon eucalyptus)

Symptoms

If traveling to areas that have been known to have had cases of the virus, it is important to know the symptoms.

These symptoms usually appear between 3-7 days after the initial mosquito bite. These symptoms include: fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.

Although the disease has no current treatment options, it is important to note that it is rarely fatal. Those that are younger in age (65 or older) and suffer from health conditions including: diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease are more susceptible to the virus.

It is important to note that although the virus is rare in the US, to remember that staying protected is the best option. Also checking updates on the center for disease control website during your time of travel will keep you informed of any new updates on cases, prevention and other important information.

For more information about the history of the virus, you can visit the CDC Website

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