MOSQUITO BORNE DISEASES: CHIKUNGUNYA
The first time I have heard about chikungunya, I thought it was a small town in Japan. Images of cherry blossoms came to my mind; maybe I should try to visit Chikungunya City for its cherry blossoms, which blooms usually in April. Well, that is what I at least thought.
I finally found out about how ignorant I was on this subject years later, after I have read about how health experts feared chikungunya could spread in North America. This led me to do further research on the disease. What is chikungunya? What is the cause? How is it spread? Is it fatal? Here is what I found out, and more, about chikungunya.
What is chikungunya?
Chikungunya is not even an Asian word. Its name is derived from an East African word which means “that which bends”. This is in reference to an infected person’s posture of bending over due to severe joint pains.
Chikungunya virus is spread to people by an infected mosquito. An infection of this disease can cause headache, high fever, nausea, severe joint pains, rash, and vomiting. Originally, this virus can be found only in Africa, Asia, and Europe. In 2013, however, cases have been found in the Americas as well, on islands in the Carribean. Due to advancements in technology, specifically in travel, the United States has never been so vulnerable to this disease as it is now. There is always a risk of transmission now because there are new travellers going in and out of the country each day.
Chikungunya in the United States
Chikungunya was not known to the United States up until around 2013, so you can probably forgive me if I thought it was a small Japanese town. Usually, all documented cases of chikungunya are from people who traveled to places where chikungunya can be found, then coming back home infected already. Unfortunately, experts fear that it would only be a matter of time before this disease would be in this country, because the mosquito type that causes it, the Aedes aegypti, have already managed to find its way here in the United States.
The Aedes aegypti: is it a cause for fear?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Aedes aegypti mosquito is the primary vector that transmits the virus that causes dengue fever. Transmission is done through their bites. In turn, they get the virus when they bite an infected person. This type of mosquito is mainly a forest-dwelling insect that has found its way – and adapted to – rural, suburban, and urban human settlements. It is now found around artificial containers like flower vases, water tanks, and old tires. They can also be found in ponds, abandoned birdbaths, sewers, and septic tanks. Due to a more modern way of travel in the past decades, mosquitoes have spread to other parts of the world, having originated in Asia, Europe, and Africa. This made them one of the most widespread mosquito species in the world. They may spend their lives around the same house where they emerged as adults because their flight range is limited, which means they go around places with the aid of humans. The spread of Aedes aegypti increases the risk of spreading diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, Zika virus, and yellow fever. They thrive in highly populated areas which lack sanitation.
Only the female mosquitoes bite because they have the necessary mouthparts to do so, while males do not. Their mouths consist of two tubes: one is for injecting enzymes that prevent blood clotting, and the other is for sucking blood. The males feed on nectar.
Transmission of chikungunya
Chikungunya is transmitted mainly through the bite of infected mosquitoes. It can also be spread from mother to child as the mother gives birth. This is rare, but not impossible. It can also be spread through blood transfusion, but this also rarely happens.
Signs and symptoms
Chikungunya’s most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms include headache, nausea, vomiting, and rash, These symptoms usually start around 3 to 7 days after being bitten. After a week, the patient would usually feel better. In some people, however, the joint pains can last for a month.
Chikungunya is not a fatal disease, but it can be painful and debilitating. Those who are at risk for more severe disease are newborns and people ages 65 to above. Same with people with medical conditions like hypertension, heart ailments, and diabetes.
Since the type of mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya are the same type that transmits dengue and Zika, the symptoms are similar. When you have these symptoms seek the help of your healthcare provider at once. If you have recently traveled, inform your physician about it. This will give them a clue that you may have gotten chikungunya.
There is currently no known vaccine nor treatment for chikungunya. There are, however, treatments for the symptoms.
Get plenty of rest, and drink plenty of fluids to continually hydrate your body. You may take medicines to take care of the pain, such as acetaminophen. To reduce fever, take paracetamol. But if you are taking other medications for some reason, consult your doctor first before you take these additional medicines for chikungunya.
As discussed earlier, the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are the main transmitters of the chikungunya virus. But how do these insects get the virus? Do they simply produce these viruses from their guts? Well, the answer is much simpler: they get infected by biting an infected human. So if you are infected by chikungunya, it is important not to be bitten by mosquitoes to prevent the spread of the disease.
Effects of climate change in the spread of chikungunya
Some experts believe that climate change is another factor in the spread of chikungunya. The increase in rainfall and increase in temperature – characteristics associated with climate change – are highly favorable to the spread of mosquitoes. As the climate gets warmer and warmer, the risk of spreading chikungunya, dengue, and Zika increases.
Stopping the spread of chikungunya
The best way to prevent the spread of chikungunya is to stop the main source: mosquitoes. These insects are considered the most dangerous creatures on earth, have caused more deaths than all the wars in history combined.
Before you call in the best pest control management in the Carolinas, you may want to try these tips:
- Mosquitoes love to breed in standing water. We should, therefore, remove all things that can hold water for a long time around your home. Old things like used tires, water containers, old gutters, abandoned birdbaths, and other similar items must be removed. You should also inspect potted plants, which also can hold water.
- When going outdoors, wear a long-sleeved shirt and shirt. This decreases exposed skin that the mosquitoes could bite.
- Use mosquito repellent that is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency and has the active ingredient DEET for added protection.
- Mosquitoes somehow always find their way inside our bedrooms. When sleeping, try using a mosquito net for protection. Apply mosquito repellent too.
- Mosquitoes have never been good flyers. They easily get taken off their tracks by the wind. This is why using an electric fan can help put them away from you.
- Make sure you keep your kitchen sinks, bathtubs, dishwashers, and showers dry.
- There are many garden plants that can help repel mosquitoes. These plants do so by their fragrances. Scents that are pleasing to us are annoying to mosquitoes and can really help put them away. If you have a garden, you may want to get these mosquito-repelling plants. You may try lavender, citronella grass, marigold, catnip, rosemary, and basil.
- Search and destroy. Actively seek out mosquitoes if you think they are within your household and kill them yourself. Show them no mercy.
These are some of the things that can help you get rid of mosquitoes. Do these things in order to protect yourself and more importantly, your family. If all else fails, then it is time to get the best in pest control management, Go-Forth Pest Control.
Why Go-Forth Pest Control?
Go-Forth Pest Control is the leading name in pest control management in the Carolinas. Established in 1959, Go-Forth is a family-owned company with excellent experience in terminating pests like mosquitoes, termites, cockroaches, flies, rats, mice, moths, ants, silverfish, weevil, silverfish, and many others. We have a team of friendly, expert technicians who will make sure they will get the job done for you while employing only family-friendly and pet-friendly methods of extermination. With Go-Forth Pest Control, you have assured of quality service as well as your family’s safety.
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Go-Forth Pest Control has earned the trust of residents and businesses in North Carolina for more than 50 years. For more information, or to set an appointment, just dial 336-841-6111. Our friendly operators are standing by.