Chikungunya - A Rising Mosquito-Borne Threat You Should Know About

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Have you heard of chikungunya? If not, you may soon know more about this debilitating disease than you'd care to because it has become a growing threat in the Americas. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), this disease, which is similar to painful dengue fever, was originally found in tropical areas of Africa, Asia and the Indian subcontinent. But in 2007, an outbreak in which the disease was locally transmitted was reported in Italy. Since that time, chikungunya transmission has also been reported in France and Croatia. And now the mosquito-borne disease is quickly spreading across the Americas.

Frightening Speed

The first case of chikungunya transmission in the Americas was reported in late 2013 on the island of St. Martin. Before that point, some cases of this viral illness, which has earned the nickname bone-break disease, had been diagnosed in people who had contracted the disease while in another country, but there had never been a report of transmission till that outbreak. Since that initial report, there have now been a staggering 1.2 million suspected cases throughout the Americas, including in Florida. While there have only been 11 locally transmitted cases in the U.S. so far in the two years since the first chikungunya transmission was reported in the United States, there is fear that the disease could gain a toehold in this country. 

Symptoms of Chikungunya

Chikungunya translates to "bending over in pain" in the African Makonde language. Its English nickname is bone-break disease for the pain it causes. The following are some of the symptoms of this disease:

  • Severe joint and muscle pain
  • Joint swelling
  • Rash
  • Severe headache and fever

While many people recover within three to seven days, the disease can leave other people feeling weak for weeks and, occasionally, even months. 

Steps You Can Take

Mosquito control will be the most important step to keeping chikungunya at bay. According to WHO, a major risk factor for contracting chikungunya is being close to the breeding site of the mosquitoes that carry this disease. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water, so step one is to get rid of anything that may be collecting water. In addition, if you are concerned that your property may be a potential mosquito breeding ground, consider hiring a pest control company so that they can:

  • Conduct an inspection of your property for potential breeding sites. Because the pest control companies are experts, they are better able to ferret out probable breeding areas. For example, they may look under your structure to see if you have water in your crawl space or if rainwater has collected in clogged gutters.
  • Apply insecticides to vegetation around your home. Some mosquitoes use the bushes and shrubbery near your home as resting spots. The pest control service may also recommend that you trim some of your vegetation back.
  • Use microbial insecticides. These insecticides, which contain microscopic living creatures, are applied to mosquito breeding sites. 
  • Perform monthly spraying of a killing agent to your property. Some pest control services offer a bait that actually causes mosquitoes to stop feeding on people. 

In addition, you should:

  • Wear long sleeves and long pants when outdoors whenever possible
  • Apply insect repellent to your exposed skin

While bone-break disease has only been transmitted rarely in the United States to this date, there is concern that this could change, given how quickly chikungunya has spread throughout the rest of the Americas. The concern is also growing because the areas where chikungunya is spreading in the Americas -- such as the islands in the Caribbean and the countries of Central America -- are popular tourist destinations for travelers from the United States, which means more potential cases arriving into this country every day. That is why many health experts are recommending that you be proactive and rid your property of potential mosquito breeding grounds before chikungunya does become a problem.  To get started, contact a local pest control company today. 

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