First things first. You pronounce this virus Chi-kung-un-ya. Go ahead and practice that tongue twister a few times so you can impress your friends later on!
The chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne illness that causes high fevers and sometimes intense pain, is spreading rapidly throughout the Caribbean. In some ways it's similar to dengue fever which is also known as break bone fever!
In 2013, the CDC reported that the disease is now endemic in the Caribbean, with up to 17 different countries reporting outbreaks. Now experts concede that it's only a matter of time before it makes its way onto US shores.
Once a person becomes infected, there’s an incubation period of three to seven days before symptoms present. The most common signs of the virus are fever and joint pain, typically in multiple different joints. Like any viral syndrome, chikungunya can also cause muscle aches, headaches, rash and joint swelling. As one health care worker put it, 'while it won't kill you, you just may wish you were dead!'
Citizens can reduce their exposure to mosquitoes by wearing protective clothing, utilizing insect repellents and staying indoors on hot days. Additionally, people should avoid or eliminate any standing water near their home, as it can serve as a mosquito breeding site.
Now, get out there and enjoy your summer!