The Chattanooga-Hamilton County Health Department is urging everyone to take steps to prevent chikungunya infection. The Health Department is investigating suspected cases in Hamilton County in people who recently traveled to the Caribbean. The Tennessee Department of Health confirmed the state’s first case of chikungunya last week in a Madison County resident who also visited the Caribbean.
Chikungunya is a virus transmitted to people by mosquitoes. The most common symptoms of infection are fever and joint pain. Travelers can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites.
According to the CDC, chikungunya was found for the first time in the Americas on islands in the Caribbean in late 2013. The virus is now widespread in the Caribbean and cases have been reported in countries in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. Chikungunya is most often spread to people by Aedes mosquitoes, a species found in Tennessee. They bite mostly during the daytime, but may also bite at night. To date, there is no evidence of transmission of chikungunya in Tennessee. Those most at risk are travelers returning from the Caribbean or other areas where chikungunya is present.
Symptoms and treatment: There is no medicine to treat chikungunya infection or disease. Most patients feel better within a week. In some people, the joint pain may persist for months. Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.
Although deaths are rare, those most at risk include the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and those who have high blood pressure, diabetes and/or heart disease. People at risk for more severe disease include newborns infected around the time of birth, older adults (≥65 years), and people with medical conditions.
-- Most people infected with chikungunya will develop some symptoms.
-- Symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
-- The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain.
-- Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.
-- To prevent further spread of the virus, it is important for people who are ill with or suspected of being ill with chikungunya to avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness.Prevention:
-- Use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
-- If you are not able to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home or hotel, sleep under a mosquito bed net.
-- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets.
-- When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
-- Do not use perfumes, colognes or scented deodorants or soap if you’re going outside, as fragrances may attract insects.
-- Use permethrin-treated
clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks, and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself:
o Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last.
-- Use insect repellents with the following active ingredients:
(Products containing DEET include Off!, Cutter, Sawyer, and Ultrathon)
o Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan [outside the US])
o Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD (Products containing OLE include Repel and Off! Botanicals)
o IR3535 (Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart)
Always follow product directions and reapply as directed. If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second. Follow package directions when applying repellent on children
. Avoid applying repellent to their hands, eyes, and mouth.
If you have recently traveled to affected areas and believe you might have chikungunya, contact your health care provider immediately, especially if you have a fever. Tell your doctor about your travel. You should also notify the Hamilton County Health Department at 423-209-8190.
For more information, visit the CDC www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/index.html
For travel health advisories, visit wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/notices