Chikungunya fever is a disease caused by virus that bears his name.This virus, we did not know until recently, caught our eye immediately with its curious and hard to pronounce name and because the same mosquito (Aedes aegypti) transmits dengue. It was not known in this hemisphere until December 2013, when she appeared on the Caribbean island of St Marteen. As has happened in epidemics in Africa and Asia, hence, has rapidly spread throughout the Caribbean, affecting 500,000 people so far.
Because our population has never experienced this infection and lack of protective antibodies, it spreads very easily and quickly in our communities.Preventive measures we have are the same as Puerto Ricans already know to avoid dengue and are to reduce the mosquito population and prevent minced:
- Keeping our homes and surroundings free of packaging (eg, used tires, and vases, garbage) that hold water
- Cover doors and window screens (“screens”).
- Wear protective clothing including long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Eliminate mosquitoes indoors.
- Use insect repellent on areas of the body that are exposed or on clothing.
Chikungunya fever begins with a sudden rise between 3-7 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. Typically, the fever is accompanied by joint pain, muscle and skin rash. You can also get a headache, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and conjunctivitis. The picture can last up to 7 days, but some people get better sooner. Rarely the disease may present with neurological symptoms and some people may continue with joint pain for a while after it happened.
If we could not prevent chikungunya is important to avoid mosquito bites while we are sick to reduce the spread to others. We must rest and stay well hydrated and we can use acetaminophen to reduce fever and relieve pain. It is very important that we consult with our family doctor who can confirm the infection and prescribe the right treatment.
chikungunya has moved to this hemisphere and unfortunately be with us for a while. We know the disease and how to prevent it, it is our single best defense.