We first heard about the new chikungunya virus several months back. Chikungunya (pronounced chik-en-gun-ye) is a virus spread to people by mosquitos. Over the past week, three News of St. John friends have come down with this virus and it sounds pretty miserable; therefore we’d like to educate you all on it in hopes that residents and visitors to the island can best protect themselves.
According to the Center for Disease Control, chikungunya was first found in the Caribbean in late 2013. It is a viral disease that typically occurs between three and seven days after a person is bitten by a mosquito. The most common symptoms, according to the CDC, are fever and joint pain. All three people we know – a 20-something woman, a 30-something man and a 40-something woman, have all said they had severe pain in their knees and feet. They also said they essentially could not get out of bed for several days. Other symptoms may include rash, muscle pain, joint swelling or headache.
If you think you may have chikungunya, you should go an see a doctor. They can confirm the virus through blood testing; however there is no treatment for chikungunya. Basically you simply need it to run its course, which is not fun from what we hear.
The best way to protect yourself, again according to the CDC, is to reduce mosquito exposure. You can do so by:
- Using air conditioning or window/door screens
- Using mosquito repellents on exposed skin
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants
- Wearing permethrin-treated clothing
- Emptying standing water from outdoor containers
Lastly, if you are sick with chikungunya, avoiding mosquito bites will help prevent further spread of the virus.