Don’t Let The Chikungunya Getcha
Carriers of Disease
Today mosquito bites are no little thing because there are many diseases that are caused when a mosquito bites an infected animal like monkeys, birds, cattle and rodents, then carries the disease to the next human it bites.
Mosquito born diseases are malaria, yellow fever, west Nile virus, dengue fever to name just a few. And then there is chikungunya, probably the least known of the lot, but not, by far, the most benign.
Chikungunya is a word from the Makonde people of southeast Tanzania and northern Mozambique. It means “that which bends up”, probably from the fever, aches and pains that it causes. Some people have relatively mild cases, which is why for many years it was thought to be benign, but now it seems the disease can be much worse than first thought.
It might start as flu-like symptoms, fever and aches, but then in some people it can devolve into debilitating joint pain, chronic arthritis, encephalitis, memory problems, dementia and even death.
A study of chikungunya was done in 2005 of people on St. Pierre Reunion Island off the coast of Madagascar. There an epidemic affected around 300,000 people. The reason was a drought in Madagascar that caused people to collect rainwater in all sorts of containers, which is, unfortunately, also the perfect place for mosquitoes to breed. A proliferation of mosquitoes that left a huge part of the population with the mosquito born disease.
Three years later it was found that the virus, while being fairly innocuous in some people, caused others to have severe symptoms, including encephalitis and other brain disorders. No one knows why some show such awful symptoms and others escape without much of anything, but it makes sense to protect yourselves against this virus, and others, with bug repellent, in whatever form works best for you.
Mosquito bites are nothing to laugh at any more. So whenever you plan to spend time out of doors in the summer make sure to have the bug repellent handy and reapply when necessary.