by Michael Lowrey
Chikungunya, which is a viral infection spread by mosquitoes. As the Raleigh News & Observer reports:
Symptoms typically start three to seven days after a bite by an infected mosquito and can include the sudden onset of fever and severe, often disabling, joint pains in the hands and feet. Many patients feel better within a week, but joint pain, insomnia and headaches may persist for months.
Some people may be infected but show no symptoms, though most do. Newborns exposed during delivery, adults over 65 and people with chronic medical conditions are at greater risk for severe bouts.
There is no treatment that fights the virus. Typically, doctors will treat symptoms with rest, fluids, and pain and fever relief drugs, and keep patients indoors under mosquito nets while they are infectious.
Chikungunya was first found in East Africa, India, the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific regions. It apparently spread to the Caribbean this winter via travelers and so far has infected more than 130,000 people there.
Could the disease spread via travelers further, like to North Carolina? It’s definitely possible, as Asian tiger mosquitoes, which we have here, are what carries and spreads Chikungunya, though likely not in the sorts of numbers seen recently in the Caribbean.