According to the Health Department, more than 5,000 cases of the Chikungunya virus in Puerto Rico were logged in 2014, with 118 new cases reported between November 12th and December 19th alone. Brenda Rivera Garcia – chief epidemiologist for the department states that most of these cases occurred in the western part of the island. It is important to avoid and eliminate mosquito breeding areas in around work and residential areas. On a serious note, chikungunya has even claimed the lives of five lives on the island, and was even declared an epidemic by Puerto Rico authorities back in July 2014.
The Chikungunya infection is spread through the Aedes Aegypt breed of mosquitoes, and is similar to dengue fever. The name may sound exotic, but its nomenclature in African translates to “bent in two” owing to the severe muscle and joint pain it causes. Other chikungunya virus symptoms include nausea, headache, fever, rash and severe arthritis like pain in worse cases. This virus is not a new development, but has been around in Africa, islands in the Indian Ocean and South Asia for the past several years.
Although not as famous in the western hemisphere, the first case of the virus was reported in St Martin with the first instance in Puerto Rico reported back in May 2014. Transported by mosquitoes and spread in populations without natural immunity, chikungunya virus symptoms have been detected in more than 700,000 people in the Caribbean, South America and Central America. One of the most notable cases of chikungunya virus is none other than Lindsay Lohan, who contracted the virus while vacationing in Bora Bora.
Take note that Chikungunya is not spread through water, air food or even caring for a sick person. The mosquitoes responsible for the spread of the infection usually bite during the day, and in most cases get the infection when they bite individuals already sick with chikungunya. Although there is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya, the best way to avoid getting infested is by using an insect repellant with IR355, oil of lemon eucalyptus or picaridin. If you’re infected by chikungunya, you should continue to avoid mosquitoes to prevent the spread of the virus. Check out our article on the best products for mosquito prevention in Puerto Rico.