What you need to know about Chikungunya

Published On: Jul 30 2014 12:13:56 PM EDT

Jacksonville, FLA -

With three cases of Chikungunya virus confirmed in Duval County, here are some things you need to know to protect you and your family. 

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, chikungunya is transmitted to people by a mosquito bite. In late 2013, the virus was found for the first time in the Americas on islands of the Caribbean. There is a risk that the virus will be imported to new areas by infected travelers. 

There is no vaccine to prevent or medication to treat chikungunya. But if you are planning to travel to the Caribbean, there are ways to protect yourself: 

- Use insect repellent
- Wear long sleeves and pants
- Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens.

Symptoms of chikungunya virus are similar to those of dengue, and usually develop three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms could include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling and rash. While chikungunya does not often result in death, the symptoms can be severe and disabling. 

Most patients with chikungunya disease feel better within a week, but in severe instances the symptoms can persist for months. Once a person is infected, however, he or she is likely to be protected from any other infections. 

If you have any of the symptoms listed, visit your doctor. Remember to tell your doctor if you have traveled out of the country recently. Blood tests may be ordered to confirm or deny the presence of chikungunya or other similar diseases.

Since there is no medicine to treat chikungunya virus infection or disease, patients with the virus are told to get plenty of rest, drink a lot of fluids, and take medicines like over the counter pain relievers to help with the pain and swelling. 

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