/ / / /

Chikungunya: What To Know Before You Go

What Is It?
Discovered in Tanzania in 1952, chik-V is viral disease transmitted by Aedes mosquitos. Symptoms include high fever, rash and sore joints (worse if you already suffer from arthritis), partial loss of taste, nausea/vomiting and conjunctivitis. While fevers tend to last for two-three days, joint pain and insomnia can last for a week or so more. Symptoms normally appear after an incubation period of about three to twelve days. These symptoms may not seem to be too severe, but when you layer them on top of less-than-optimal health or another unchecked disease, the combination could prove to be quite serious. With that said, travelers who suffer from arthritis, who are pregnant or who suffer from any medical condition should consult with their doctor before taking off.

How Do You Get It?
Skeeters! Chik-V can only be transferred from mosquito to person, not person to person.

How Do I Treat It?
There is no medical treatment or vaccination for chik-V, although a proper diagnosis and medical monitoring is best as untreated cases can lead to long-term inflammation and infections.

How Do I Avoid It?
Protection. In general, any arthropod-borne virus is quite nasty (think: Malaria, Dengue, Yellow Fever, etc) so mosquito proofing yourself is your best bet whenever traveling to a mosquito-heavy area like the Caribbean. And while I tend to lean towards more natural remedies and methods when it comes to mother earth, I blend my principles when it comes to mosquitos and pull out the big guns: DEET & Lemon Eucalyptus aka OLE. Essentially, anytime you see either of these ingredients in your repellent with high percentages you are on the right track. My favorite mix starts with a full blast of a high DEET product like Sawyer Jungle Juice100 (which you should apply in an open room) and then I finish with Burt’s Bees Herbal Repellant because I like to smell human, with spicy and sweet notes of lemon. Of course products like Cutter, Off! and more that contain lower levels DEET work well, use your best judgement for the country you are visiting and the activities you plan to do when you arrive. Remember to apply sunscreen before insect repellant so you don’t sunburn while trying to remain healthy.

See you in the sun (under the mosquito net and smelling like a bunch of repellant) this summer ladies. Safe travels!

* As of June 17, 2014

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington