Chikungunya is one of many viruses that are carried and spread by mosquitoes in Pennsylvania. It is most commonly spread by the biting Asian tiger mosquito which generally bites during the daytime. This newcomer to the repertoire of diseases that these flying germ factories can cause prompted our state to issue an alert last year, and according to the CDC, as of 2015, it is now a nationally notifiable disease.
Chikungunya was first recognized in Africa in 1952 and has steadily spread from there. Most people infected with this virus in the United States have been people who returned from infected areas; however, the first locally transmitted occurrence appeared in Florida last year. The mosquitoes are infected when they bite a person with this illness and then spread it when they bite another human. The fact that we have people in our state that have had and currently have this sickness means that it is only a matter of time before it is a common locally transmitted virus. Chikungunya is most similar to dengue fever; and although it is rarely fatal, it can make you feel pretty miserable. The symptoms of this illness appear 3 to 7 days after infection and can range from mild to severe. Most commonly, this sickness causes fever, joint and muscle pain, headache, joint swelling and rash. These symptoms generally disappear within a week but the joint pain can linger for months. Severe cases of chikungunya are most likely to occur in newborns, the aged over 65, and in people with pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, HBP, or heart disease.
To avoid contracting Chikungunya, West Nile, Malaria, or any of the five different types of encephalitis associated with these blood thirsty pests you must avoid being bitten by one of the many species of mosquitoes that can act as vectors for these illnesses. Some practical measures you can take immediately include:
Remove standing water sources from you environment
Keep your lawn and shrubbery trimmed
Stay covered when outside; especially at dawn and dusk when these little vampires of the insect world usually strike
Use a reliable bug spray with at least 20% deet
Repair or replace screens and other entrance points in your home
Stay inside during high biting times; dusk and dawn
Although, even with your best effort, mosquito bites are inevitable. As with any transmittable disease, the best way to avoid becoming a victim is to reduce the number of encounters with the ones that are infected. To accomplish this, I encourage you to consider a home pest control package from Witt Pest Management. The Pittsburgh pest control pros at Witt have over 100 years of experience in dealing with creatures that can pose a health threat to you and your family, and they use eco-friendly pest control practices! Remember, mosquitoes can never be 100% eliminated; but they can be controlled and kept to a minimum with the help from the professionals at Witt.