Chikungunya Virus Spreads to More Popular Travel Destinations

You may need to bring bug spray along with your bathing suit on your next trip to the Caribbean. Time Warner Cable News’ Valerie D’Elia explains why in this travel report.

Since 2013, several of the islands have had cases of a viral disease with a silly name – Chikungunya.

There is enough confusion over the mosquito-transmitted disease that a Time Warner Cable News employee was hospitalized and suspected of contracting it after returning with similar symptoms.

"I remember one young doctor mentioning to me it could be this thing Chikungunya," says Will Germain.

With roots in the Caribbean, Chikungunya is now spreading far and wide, as evidenced in a map updated weekly by the Centers for Disease Control.

The virus sounds like how it makes people feel.

“The joints become so weakened and painful, the person assumes a chicken-like stance, and that is what the name is derived from,” says travel medicine specialist Dr. Alexander Lupenko.

The Chikungunya mosquitoes generally bite in the daytime, and once infected, most people become symptomatic in three to seven days.

“The onset of the disease is sudden, with a sudden fever, of over 102, sudden, severe joint pains, nausea and vomiting, headaches, cramps, sometimes ocular symptoms, in more severe cases, the heart, liver and kidneys,” says Lupenko.

It usually takes 7 to 10 days to recover after a regimen of bed rest and fluids. The virus is rarely fatal.

Precautions include avoiding mosquito exposure by using bug spray with DEET, staying inside air-conditioned rooms and covering up when outside.

For more information about the Chikungunya virus, visit the CDC website.

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