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What is Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a non-contagious viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. The name chikungunya is African in origin meaning "stooped over" because of the severity of the joint pain. Although it is usually not fatal it can cause:
  • a sudden high fever onset (>102 Degrees F.)
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Severe joint pain in the arms and legs
  • Back pain
  • Rash
Symptoms usually begin 3 - 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. If you think you may have chikungunya you should see a doctor as only a healthcare provider can make the determination by evaluating clinical signs, and symptoms of the disease and order confirmatory laboratory tests. Complications can be more common in the elderly, infants, and those with other chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

Is there any treatment or vaccine for Chikungunya?

There is no specific medication to treat this virus and no vaccine. Treatment is supportive and consists mainly of taking an analgesic to relieve fever and joint pain. Most people infected with chikungunya feel better after a few days or weeks, some may experience longer-term joint pain.

How is Chikungunya detected?

At this time there are no specific tests for chikungunya in collected mosquito pools, only tests that can detect the virus in human blood samples.

Where is the disease endemic?

Chikungunya has occurred in Africa, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, and islands in the Indian and Pacific Ocean. In late 2013, chikungunya was found in the Caribbean. In July 2014 two local cases were reported to the CDC in Florida.

Could the disease become endemic in the U.S.?

If people who are infected with the disease come into the U.S. with high levels of viremia (meaning the virus has entered the bloodstream) in significantly high amounts so that the virus can picked up by a mosquito vector, capable of transmitting the disease it is possible for chikungunya to become endemic in the U.S. with cases being acquired locally.

What are the mosquitoes that can transmit Chikungunya?

Aedes aegypti female mosquito.jpg                   Aedes albopictus female mosquito.jpg
  Female Ades agypti identified by white lyre shape on thorax Female Aedes albopictus also known as the Asian tiger                    mosquito identified by silvery white line on the thorax

The Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito because of its white striped markings, can transmit dengue, yellow fever and chikungunya.

  • These are small black and white persistent daytime biting mosquitoes. 
  • These mosquitoes are "urbanized" because the females of both species prefer to take a blood meal from people so they can be found primarily in populated residential areas close to their preferred hosts. The Aedes agypti also likes to enter houses.
  • The Aedes albopictus, a native mosquito of Southeast Asia was accidentally introduced to the U.S. in 1985 in imported tires in San Diego and Houston. Although primarily a tropical mosquito, it has adjusted to cooler climates and is now prevalent throughout the U.S.
  • They stay fairly close to their breeding site, flying only about 300 feet away from it.
  • They are container breeding mosquitoes, and breed in unused flower pots, tires, untreated swimming pools, tree holes, gutters, drainage ditches, tarps, French drains, and any other container that holds water and is protected from direct sunlight and predators.
  • They breed in a cleaner "fresher" standing water source not as polluted as the breeding preference for the Southern House mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus. 
  • They rest in low lying shrubs and bushes close to houses.

Aedes resting on plant.jpg
  Aedes mosquito resting on a plant

Is spraying effective for this mosquito?

Spraying is done in the hours after dusk and before dawn primarily for the Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito, a transmitter of West Nile that is active at night. The Aedes mosquito species is active during the daytime and rests at night closer to ground level in shrubs and bushes making it less likely for the chemical to come in contact with them so spraying is less effective in controlling adult Aedes mosquitoes. The most effective way in controlling this mosquito is to eliminate breeding sites.

How can I avoid getting Chikungunya?

  • Drain all standing water sources
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors, weather permitting
  • Use an EPA recommended mosquito repellent when outdoors

Common Breeding sites for Aedes mosquitoes

French Drain.jpg         green pool.jpg
  French drain Stagnant swimming pool

mosquito breeding sources.jpg          tires and tarp in yard.jpg
  Common breeding sources for mosquitoes around the home Tires and tarp in yard

To report standing water or potential mosquito breeding sources call the Environmental Health Department at 972.919.2536 or 2537.

The following links provide more information on chikungunya