Friday, January 18, 2008
Chik fever: Funny name, serious threat
What's in a name? In the case of Chikungunya fever, a mosquito-borne disease that is becoming a growing concern around the world, a funny-sounding name has serious implications. The word "Chikungunya" is thought to mean "to dry up or to become contorted," describing the stooped posture that many victims develop as a result of the severe joint pain and arthritis associated with the disease. Not so funny-sounding now, right?
Chik fever is a rare viral disease usually only seen in Africa and Asia. But it has now spread to parts of Europe and has been found in travelers in the United States. Similar to West Nile virus, the chikungunya virus is spread to people by bites from infected mosquitoes. Faster travel and warmer climates have allowed the disease to spread more easily, scientists believe. The virus has also changed to infect the Asian tiger mosquito, which has been found in both Europe and North America. It could be only a matter of time until infected mosquitoes make their way across the United States, and onto your arms and legs.
Infections with Chik fever can range from unpleasant -- such as fever, fatigue, nausea, muscle pain and rash -- to serious, such as severe joint pain and arthritis that can last from weeks to months. Unfortunately, there is no treatment or vaccine for Chik fever.
As climate change creates more warm areas for mosquitoes to spread to, diseases such as Chik fever will become more of a concern. So once the temperatures start to rise in your region and the bugs are again buzzing, remember to take precautions against mosquitoes. You could get more than an itch for your troubles.
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto
Posted by Unknown at 3:05 PM