The Health Department is investigating suspected cases of chikungunya in Hamilton County in people who recently traveled to the Caribbean. Chikungunya is a virus transmitted to people by mosquitoes. The most common symptoms of infection are fever and joint pain. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
There is no treatment for chikungunya. Most patients feel better within a week. In some cases, patients experienced persistent joint pain for several months.Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections. Although death from chikungunya is rare, those most at risk include the elderly, newborns, people with compromised immune systems, high blood pressure, diabetes and/or heart disease.
To prevent further spread of the virus, it is important for people who are infected with or are suspected of being infected with chikungunya to avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness. In order to avoid contraction, use air conditioning or window/door screens to keep mosquitoes outside. If you are unable to protect yourself from mosquitoes inside your home, sleep under a mosquito bed net. Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your home by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots or buckets. When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Do not use perfumes, colognes, or scented deodorants or soap if you’re going outside, as fragrances may attract insects. Use insect repellents with the following active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), or IR3535. Always follow repellent product directions and reapply as directed. If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.
If you have recently traveled to affected areas and believe you might have chikungunya, contact your health care provider immediately, especially if you have a fever. You should also notify the Health Department at 209-8190.