For years the American public has been relatively unaffected by mosquito borne diseases, capsule partly due to the mild American climate as well as a limited number of pathogens and viable vector in the environment. Unfortunately, prostate that has now changed, online maybe for good.
Most mosquito related diseases like Dengue fever and Yellow fever are limited to tropical areas with very limited dispersion on the North American continent. The most significant mosquito related disease in the US, malaria, is now relegated to history books as huge public works projects, area wide mosquito control efforts and enormous amounts of public education have eliminated mosquito habitat and populations throughout the country.
Occasionally, smaller localized outbreaks of mosquito borne diseases like Eastern Equine Encephalitis will crop up and plague a small area. Although of limited interest to the average person, the mosquito’s ability to spread diseases like tapeworm and encephalitis to animals is still a threat to farming communities or pets and pet owners. These diseases have been limited in distribution and specific in scope, attacking small areas or groups of animals in recent years. Unfortunately, that is about to change….
In previous blogs we’ve discussed a new mosquito borne illness known as Chikungunya (pronounced “Chicken-gun-yah”) and it potential to go from an occasional imported disease to an established pathogen on the US mainland. According to the CDC, the first case of domestically acquired Chikungunya was reported and confirmed on July 17th of this year in Florida. Although almost 250 cases of Chikungunya have been reported in the US since 2006 all of these previous cases have been contracted by people traveling abroad before retuning hoe to the US. In the July 17th case, the victim had not traveled abroad and transmission of the virus was confirmed as a local source.
Chikungunya is a complex disease that while not fatal, can cause severe pain and debilitation. Subjects infected with the Chikungunya virus will exhibit a high fever and a significant amount of joint and body pain. Other symptoms include, but are not limited to, headaches, joint swelling and rashes. At this time there is no known vaccine for Chikungunya and although treatment does exist, affected individuals can suffer from symptoms for up to two years after initial exposure. It is interesting to note that the Chikungunya virus cannot be spread directly from person to person, the virus requires distribution via mosquitoes like the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the Yellow Fever Mosquito (Aedes aegypti).
While New Jersey residents need not be immediately concerned they should be aware of the presence of Chikungunya both in the US as well as any potential vacation destinations. A trip to Key West or the Caribbean would put the average vacationer in areas prone to harbor Chikungunya and other diseases. It’s also worth noting that the Asian Tiger Mosquito has recently moved into New Jersey and has the potential to transmit Chikungunya and other mosquito related diseases to residents of the Garden State.
You can see the CDC’s original press release here…
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