Chikungunya Virus: Should You Be Worried?

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A virus with a strange name could be making its way to the United States.

The Chikungunya virus is transmitted to humans by virus-carrying Aedes mosquitoes.

The virus is similar to other Alphaviruses, and its symptoms can last anywhere from two to five days.

The most common symptoms reported by people who have contracted the virus are fever, rash and severe joint pain.

The virus can be hard to diagnose at first because the symptoms are so similar to other viruses.

The virus is spreading rapidly throughout the Caribbean and has recently popped up in the United States.

There have been at least 25 reported cases of the virus in Florida. Almost all of the people who reported the virus were travelers who had recently visited the Caribbean.

The virus is new to the United States, but not other parts of the world. It was first discovered in 1952 and is usually found in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and Southeast Asia.

In 2013, people in the Caribbean began showing signs of the virus, meaning that local mosquitos were carrying the disease. The virus has since spread to 17 different countries.

Since so many people travel to the Caribbean from the United States, it is likely that the disease will spread quickly throughout the United States as well.

“The mosquitos that transmit this infection are pretty widespread around the world, and that’s why the infection has been able to spread across the tropical Pacific and now into the Caribbean,” Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the infection prevention program at Loyola University, Chicago, and medical spokesperson for the National Pest Management Association, said. “And there’s absolutely no reason why this infection can’t spread to more of South America and the southern United States.”

The best way to avoid catching the virus is to avoid being bitten by mosquitos. There are numerous bug repellants that can help you with this. If you do catch the Chikungunya virus, there isn't much you can do other than let the virus run its course and use over-the-counter medication to treat your symptoms.

Doctors and scientists are currently working on treatments for the virus but it could be many years before one is developed.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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