Tuesday, 24 June 2014
Well it's here....the dreaded Chikungunya....the latest disease to come a -calling in the Caribbean, with 14 deaths already recorded in the region.
Chikungunya fever is a viral disease which is transmitted by mosquitoes.
Once upon a time we only had to worry about dengue fever being spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but now we have to be wary of Chikungunya as well, another mosquito-borne disease.
Chikungunya means "that which bends up" which describes the stance of sufferers who stoop over with joint pain (arthralgia).
The word itself is derived from Kimakonde, a language spoken by an African tribe from the eastern border between Mozambique and Tanzania.
The disease was first recorded back in 1952 and has affected millions of people in Africa and Asia but now it can be found almost worldwide.
Chikungunya is transmitted by both the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.
These mosquitoes bite mostly during the day, with peak hours two hours after sunrise and two hours before sunset.
The symptoms usually kick in 3-7 days after being bitten by the mosquito. Sudden high fevers, severe headaches, muscle pain, pain behind the eyes, stiff painful joints especially wrists, knuckles and ankles, loss of appetite, measle like rash on chest and upper limbs, and nausea and vomiting.
There are no antiviral medicines available to treat Chikungunya, and any treatment used is to counteract the symptoms only, and may include mandatory rest, fluids and medication for fever and pain, however aspirin should be avoided at all costs.
A visit to the doctor for a blood test will confirm the presence of Chikungunya in the body.
In the meanwhile, it is imperative to keep your surroundings clean, and check your premises both inside and outside for any areas of standing water where the mosquitoes may breed.
Empty and cover all water containers, throw out old tires, bottles, cans and coconut shells where water may collect, clean dishes and bowls used by domestic animals regularly, empty water in plant saucers, change water in vases, clean roof gutters and drains, use mosquito dunk tablets or large larva eating fish in ponds, spread a film of kerosene oil on pools of stagnant water, cover and seal wells, septic tanks, soak-aways and water storage tanks.
As always dress appropriately for outdoor activities by using mosquito repellents on skin, and wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts when outside during the peak biting times at dusk and dawn.
Window screens and mosquito nets will also aid in keeping the mosquitoes away.
I will be spraying the property today, and I guess the Ministry of Health will step up its fogging program in the coming weeks.
Here is a link.
Another news story here and here.
*All images above are from Google Images.