The itch of mosquito bites is usually the price we pay after an encounter with these pests. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), cases of a mosquito-borne illness with flu-like symptoms called chikungunya (chick-un-gun-ya), is affecting people throughout the U.S. As of late-July, the illness, which has not been prevalent in the United States, has a total of 497 cases reported from U.S. states. Of these, 197 were locally transmitted in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. All other cases occurred in travelers returning from affected areas in the Caribbean and South America, the Pacific Islands or Asia.
With the recent outbreaks in the Caribbean and the Pacific, the number of chikungunya cases among travelers visiting or returning to the United States from affected areas will likely increase. These imported cases could result in additional local spread of the virus in the continental U.S.
Here are a few tips to protect you and your loved ones as you travel and at home:
- Mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya bite mostly during the daytime; other mosquito species are most active at dawn and dusk
- When outdoors, use insect repellant with DEET as an active product on any exposed skin
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to reduce the amount of skin exposed
- Make sure all windows and doors in your home, or in your home-away-from-home while traveling, are closed tightly and that screens are well-sealed to prevent mosquitoes from getting inside
- Empty standing water from outdoor containers
Symptoms of chikungunya usually begin 3‒7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. They include fever and severe joint pains, often in the hands and feet, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash. There is no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya.
There are 13 species of mosquitoes which are capable of transmitting diseases in humans and animals. If you suspect you have a mosquito infestation at your home or want to protect yourself from potential attacks, contact Massey Services for more information on our Mosquito Abatement programs to reduce the risk faced from contact with disease-carrying mosquitoes.