Chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease, hits South Jersey

New, mosquito-borne disease affecting our area.  Chik-a-what-a? No, it’s Chikungunya!

Mosquitoes – and the diseases they can carry – have been on the rise this spring & summer.

They’ve been popping up all over – our backyards, parks & playgrounds, hiking trails – heck, you’ll find ’em everywhere in our outdoor living spaces.

They’ve even managed to take the spotlight in the news, too.

The Chikungunya Virus’ Arrival

Well, it seems the infamous mosquito has gotten another 15 minutes of fame – the Asian Tiger mosquito – carrying the Chikungunya virus (pronounced chick-en-gun-yuh) is a case in point.

There have been several Chikungunya cases reported. We all need to be aware of the growing health threat this insect now poses.

The Virus Carrier

The Asian Tiger mosquito has been confirmed in eastern U.S. cities as far north as Chicago and New York – where annual average temperatures of 50° F (or warmer), offer an ideal environment for this intruder.

Research suggests it has adapted its behavior and can now survive the cooler temperatures autumn brings.

In other words, they don’t die off as early in the fall, and can continue breeding and laying their eggs longer – and a longer breeding period suggests there will be more Asian Tiger mosquitoes in the northern regions, which means there could be more possible Chikungunya outbreaks.

Can We Expect More Outbreaks of Chikungunya

While no one is certain just what course Chikungunya will take in the United States, the CDC believes we’ll likely see mostly localized cases of the virus, as opposed to widespread outbreaks – since most folks who’ve been diagnosed with Chikungunya have historically contracted it while travelling abroad.

However, since it seems there are more infected travelers coming into the U.S., the likelihood of spreading and contracting the disease will likely increase, especially since the mosquito spreads the Chikungunya virus by biting someone who has the virus, and then biting other people.

Normally a mosquito-borne pathogen needs to replicate inside an animal (like a bird with West Nile Virus) before it can pass from a mosquito to a human…

What are the Asian Tiger Mosquitoes?

Asian Tiger mosquitoes are far more aggressive and tougher than most other mosquito species, in that smacking them doesn’t seem to incapacitate (or kill them), they’ll just fly off and come back later, or find someone else to feed on.

While many mosquitoes target animals and only feed on humans opportunistically, Asian Tiger mosquitoes actually prefer to feed on of humans.

And, they’re daytime feeders so, while other species tend to feed at dawn or dusk, Asian Tiger mosquitoes bite & suck during the those same daylight hours we humans tend to be most active.

Chikungunya Symptoms

Following a bite from a carrier mosquito, the incubation period for Chikungunya is between 2 – 6 days, with symptoms usually appearing 3 – 7 days after infection.

So what should you be watching for?

Symptoms include:

  • abrupt onset of fever
  • accompanied frequently by joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • headache
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • rash

The joint pain is often very debilitating, but usually lasts for a few days, but could continue for a few weeks.

Indeed, Haitians call Chikungunya “the fever that breaks your bones” disease  or “break bone fever” because the joint pain is so excruciating, it feels like your bones are breaking.

Preventing Chikungunya

Since there’s no current vaccine or medicine to prevent and/or treat Chikungunya, we need to take matters into our own hands…

When outdoors, keep yourself protected by using standard mosquito protection protocols– a mosquito repellent with lots of DEET, and try to keep your skin covered in light weight, long-sleeve, long-legged clothing.

And, if for any reason you experience fevers, aches & pains, headaches, joint pain or swelling, or a rash, consult with your doctor.

For more information on mosquito prevention, and how you can keep yourself, your loved ones, and your property protected, call TermiGuard for pest control.

It’s chock-full of useful information and tips for keeping those pesky (and dangerous) mosquitoes at bay – I’ll bet some of these prevention tips won’t have occurred to you … and boy will they pay off!

So, don’t wait until you hear the buzzing, or feel the biting – call us at one of the numbers below TODAY to stop those nasty pests, and their health risks, from ruining your time outdoors!

As always, dedicated to providing you healthier living.