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Chikungunya Virus Information for Travelers to the Caribbean

Chikungunya Virus
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You may have seen this difficult-to-pronounce disease show up in the news recently. That’s because there have been over 4,000 confirmed cases in the Caribbean in the past several months. Most people have never hard of this virus. We’ll break it down for you in this post.

Where is it found and how is transmitted

While the Chikungunya Virus is making waves in the Caribbean, the virus is actually most commonly found in parts of Asia and Africa. It’s only recently arrived in the Caribbean, and unfortunately, it has spread throughout many of the islands.

The virus is transmitted by our good pal, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same guy who can give you dengue fever. The virus may not present symptoms for one to twelve days. It’s possible to get bitten by an infected mosquito and not come down with the virus for nearly two weeks.

What are the symptoms?

In some ways, the Chikungunya Virus is like a more mild and less dangerous version of dengue fever. In fact, many people refer to the disease as chikungunya fever. Here are some of the most common symptoms:

  • Fever – the fever is a mainstay of this virus. It can reach 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Centigrade), and it usually ends rather abruptly after 2-3 days.
  • A rash – usually observed in the lower limbs.
  • Joint pain – the joint pain typically lasts longer than other symptoms. In some cases, it has been known to last weeks and months after the other symptoms have subsided. In instances of acute infection, joint pain may manifest itself for several years.

Nausea, headaches, vomiting, and insomnia are also observed as symptoms in many cases.

How to avoid chikungunya fever?

Unfortunately, there is no vaccination or prophylactic for this disease. So what can you do? Don’t get bit by mosquitoes. Easier said than done? We can help you with that here.

Can it be treated?

Unfortunately, there is no treatment for chikungunya fever. None? Nope. Nothing, nada. A clinic can diagnosis you, provide some relief with fluids and pain medication, but that’s about it.

Is there any good news?

Yes! the disease is rarely fatal, and it usually clears up after a few days. Most patients do not experience long-term symptoms.

Should you cancel your trip over this disease?

Check the latest information from the CDC and the WHO to see if your destination is particularly at risk. Personally, we would be hard-pressed to cancel a trip because of this virus, but if there is a particularly strong outbreak, you might just have to pass on that beach vacation. Don’t listen to us, though! We are not doctors. Go to a travel health clinic and follow the advice of a medical professional.

For additional reading, check out this article and this one.

Any thoughts from travelers out there? Anyone been to the Caribbean recently?

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