Have you heard of chikungunya? (Hint: It’s not a new southwestern dish.)

mosquitoIf you’re vacationing in the Caribbean, you may want to toss the bikini and wear long sleeves and long pants, instead.

Chikungunya (pronunciation: chik-en-gun-ye) is a virus similar to dengue, causing fever and joint pain. The fever and joint pain are more intense with chikungunya, however, affecting hands, feet, knees, and back, and making daily activities difficult. As of March 6, 2015, over 20 Caribbean countries have reported cases of chikungunya.

Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) website tells us that the disease rarely causes death, but joint pain can last months or even years for some people. Complications are more frequent in children under 1 and in people over 65 years of age and/or with chronic diseases (diabetes, hypertension, etc.). There is no specific treatment or vaccine to prevent infection by this virus.

When traveling to countries where chikungunya has been confirmed, take precautions. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, and stay in places with air conditioning or window and door screens.

Read the Traveler’s Health Yellow Book for more information on Protection against Mosquitoes, Ticks, Fleas & Other Insects and Arthropods. And check the CDC’s Travel Health website to see if the country you plan to visit has any travel health notices.

 

Posted by Susan Andersen

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