Physicians in the U-S are learning more about the exotic-sounding illness that originated in the Caribbean – chikungunya. Most of those in the U-S with the illness had recently traveled to that area and returned home ill. Chief of the Infectious Disease Division at the University of Nebraska Medical Center Dr. Mark Rupp says like West Nile it is spread my mosquitoes but there are a few differences.
Dr. Rupp says birds and other animals can carry West Nile disease but not chikungunya. The only way it can spread is if a mosquito bites an infected person and then bites others. He wouldn’t be surprised to see small pockets of chikungunya outbreaks here in the U-S. There has been one confirmed case in Nebraska but that individual had recently traveled to the Caribbean.
There is not cure and symptoms can last for months. Dr. Rupp says those symptoms include fever and severe joint pain. In Haiti it is called “bone breaking disease” because it feels like you have broken bones.
Health officials recommend those traveling to the Caribbean take precautions. That includes wearing long sleeves and long pants and using a repellant with DEET.