Chikungunya Outbreak Has North Carolina Residents on Guard
A mosquito-borne virus that has long been confined to the Eastern Hemisphere has made its way to America. There are several confirmed cases of chikungunya in the United States this year, with over ten instances in North Carolina alone. While the vast majority of cases were contracted during travels outside of the United States, this virus could spread. If an infected individual is bitten by a mosquito within a week of contracting the illness, that mosquito may pick up the virus.
Chikungunya is a Makonde word meaning “that which bends over,” which refers to the joint pain it causes in victims. The pain can be debilitating, but usually lasts only a few days or weeks at most. It is often accompanied by a fever of up to 104°. Other symptoms include rash, nausea, fatigue, and headache. The mosquitos which spread chikungunya most often bite during the day, particularly in the early morning and evening, and illness usually occurs four to eight days after infection.
There is no treatment for chikungunya, although scientists in North Carolina are working to develop a vaccine. So far, North Carolina doctors have seen cases in Alamance, Buncombe, Forsyth, and Cabarrus counties, and the virus is expected to expand its reach. The best way to avoid infection is by taking precautions against mosquito bites. Chikungunya is no longer restricted to people who are travelling outside of the United States, so everyone should follow these guidelines:
- Wear long pants and sleeved shirts if you are in an area with many mosquitoes, especially during the early morning and evening hours.
- Get rid of any standing water in your yard, such as bird baths or large puddles, as these are the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
- Look for insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and/or para-menthane-diol products for long-lasting coverage.
- If you’re using both sunscreen and insect repellant, apply sunscreen first, and then spray the repellent.
Come to FastMed Urgent Care if you are experiencing fever, headaches, nausea, or joint pain. While chikungunya cannot be cured, rest, hydration, and over-the-counter pain relievers can help ease your symptoms until you get back on your feet again. At FastMed Urgent Care, we’re dedicated to keeping our community healthy. If you are bitten by a mosquito, be alert for any warning signs or symptoms. If you feel ill, get checked out at your local FastMed.