G, Mish-Mish, Kashi, Yeti and I are just six days away from our drive from Massachusetts to Florida so I've been reading up on dreadful tropical diseases that are creeping up from the Mexico and Caribbean as our global temperatures rise. Just to relax after a long day of packing, fixing the car, arguing about what we should keep or throw out, and carrying off many of my valuable lifetime possessions to the dump, I learned this bit of news.
Rob Garver of The Fiscal Times reports Chikungunya, and Other Diseases You Now Have to Worry About
Last week, Florida health officials confirmed the first cases of the tropical disease chikungunya acquired in the United States. Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus native to Africa and South Asia that, until now, has never been endemic to the United States. It causes debilitating fever, and intense joint pain, and though it is seldom fatal, is very dangerous for people whose health is already compromised and can cause long-term arthritis-like symptoms.So far this year the U.S has experience 497 cases of the the tropical disease caused by the Chikungunya virus so far in 2014 - much higher than our historical average yearly rate of 28 cases per year. Kitty Appel, of HuffPost Healthy Living reports 9 Must-Know Facts About The Chikungunya Virus, for which there is no vaccination, nor cure. The World Health Organization report the Carribbean and rest of the America experiences 436,586 suspected cases a year.
The arrival of this new disease comes on top of the increasing frequency in the U.S. of Dengue fever, a condition similar in its effects to chikungunya, and is also not native to the United States.
Onset of symptoms usually starts three to seven days after the mosquito bite.
The symptoms can include headache, joint swelling, rash and muscle pain, with fever and joint pain being the most common symptoms, according to the CDC. Symptoms usually only last two to three days. ... The disease does not usually kill. Most people will feel better within a week, though some are never relieved of the debilitating joint pain.
Like we are learning with shingles, hepatitis, HPV, and Epstein Barre many of the viruses that cause short term diseases like the measles, herpes, mononucleosis, never really leave our body, but either simmer at a low level, or wait - lurking like a coiled jungle tiger (apologies to Woody Allen), for a moment when our defenses are down to come back and strike with a vengeance.
Recent cases reported in Florida included two locally acquired cases among patients who had not left the country. There have been 10 cases reported throughout North Carolina, just this week and three cases recently reported on Long Island, NY, though both the North Carolina and New York patients acquired the disease from mosquitoes they encountered in other countries.
Humans contract the virus through mosquito bites, according to the World Health Organization. The Aedes species of mosquito, particularly Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, transmits the virus. It's not spread human to human, though, in rare cases, it can be spread from mother to newborn; it can also theoretically be spread via blood transfusion, though this has never happened before, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If an infected person is bitten by a mosquito, they can spread it to others. (They = mosquito, not the person bitten. We need some creative Sci Fi writers to create a new kind of Zombie to describe what happens if an infected person bites you. Although it is probably generally good health advice not to let people infected with things to bite you, even for fun.) (Humor alert!)
Chikungunya is one of those ailments where all we can do is rest, drink lots of fluids and take pain relievers. As they say "smoke em if ya got em."
It is sometimes misdiagnosed as dengue which has many of the same symptoms but dengue also causes bleeding from odd places, which is another unpleasant new tropical disease that is common in the tropics but is now showing up in North America as well. More on that another day.
Your best bet is to protect yourself against mosquitoes which you should already be doing anyway due to Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, West Nile virus, Western equine encephalitis, Dengue Fever. And in other parts of the world Malaria, Japanese encephalitis, and La Crosse encephalitis,
The best way to protect ourselves from becoming life-long brew kettles for dreadful virus is to never go outdoors, unless absolutely necessary, and then bath our skin with DEET, wear long-sleeve shirts, pant, and hats with mosquito netting. I wash my clothes in industrial strength DEET to create an atmospheric bubble around me, but experts don't usually advise going this far. (Humor alert.)
Heck after reading the WHO and CDC sites all week for my Ebola, SARS, MERS, Avian Flu, and PDS articles, if I dare ventures outdoors I'm going to make my own Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, and use duck tape around my pant legs, and shirt sleeves, and make myself a mosquito hat with some of that transparent black hanging stuff Betty Davis used to wear to look dramatic. Oh yeah, also don't bite people, or allow yourself to be bitten by people with dreadful diseases, or ghastly skin rashes, and boils no matter how much fun it may seem at the time. For some, this may mean cutting back on intoxicants and hallucinogens, or at least use a "buddy system."
Well, have fun this Friday night. I'm going to go back to the dump and see if I can sneak some of my valuable lifetime possessions back into the moving truck while G is asleep.
Cheers and Woof, woof!