Mosquito bites and summer go hand in hand; however, reports of a rise in chikungunya and West Nile virus (WNV) cases around the
“In late summer, preventing mosquito bites is paramount as there is no specific treatment for either West Nile virus or chikungunya. Although there have only been a few locally transmitted cases of chikungunya, the number of travelers being diagnosed upon returning home has spiked compared to years’ past. It’s best to never assume that the mosquito buzzing around you or your family is disease-free,” said Dr. Jorge Parada, medical advisor to the NPMA.
Dr. Parada and the NPMA are advising Americans to become familiar with the symptoms of each disease and to seek prompt medical attention if becoming symptomatic.
>>According to the CDC, from 2006 to 2013, approximately 28 people per year tested positive for chikungunya—all resulting from travel outside the US. The first known locally-transmitted cases were reported in Florida in July 2014. The disease is currently being reported in 37 states.
>>Symptoms start four to eight days after the bite and generally resolve after one week.
>>Patients experience severe joint pain (especially in hands and feet), fever, headaches, muscle pain, rash, and joint swelling.
>>The virus is typically not fatal, but can be extremely painful.
>>There is no treatment or preventive vaccine.
West Nile Virus (WNV)
>>WNV first appeared in North America in 1999 and has spread throughout the US ever since. It is found in nearly every state.
>>Symptoms begin anytime from three to 14 days after being bitten and may persist for several weeks.
>>Patients experience swollen glands, eye pain, sore throat, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain—symptoms that are very similar to a summer flu.
>>Approximately 80 percent of human cases may not display any symptoms, and a person may be unaware they have contracted WNV.
>>There is no treatment or vaccine, and in some cases WNV can be fatal.
According to the NPMA, practicing proper prevention measures can help protect against mosquitoes and vector-borne disease:
>>Always apply insect repellant when outdoors and use as directed on the product label. Apply repellant over top of sunscreen, and reapply every four to six hours.
>>Minimize outside activity between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, though it is important to note that mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya are active throughout the day.
>>Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and closed-toe shoes when outdoors.
>>Eliminate areas of standing water around the home, including clogged gutters, birdbaths, flower pots, tires, and kiddie pools or untreated pools. Mosquitoes need only half an inch of water to breed.
>>Screen all windows and doors, and patch any torn screens.
Source: The National Pest Management Association, PestWorld.org.