Chikungunya. The word may prompt someone to respond with “Bless you.” But it is a deadly serious virus spread by mosquitoes, and it has reached West Virginia. Folks with the Department of Health and Human Resources will tell the media only that an infected person was treated in western West Virginia.
There is no vaccine or treatment available, which means prevention is essential.
Like West Nile and Lyme disease, chikungunya must be transmitted by the bite of a creature most of us do not think about until we are slapping them off our arms. But prevention is possible.
Drain standing water on your property, in items such as pool covers, garbage cans, flower pots and toys left in the lawn. Discard such items if possible, and be certain to empty and clean items such as animal feed bowls and birdbaths. And, of course, use screens on windows and doors, and protect your skin with either light clothing or insect repellent. Experts say repellents with 10 percent to 30 percent DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are effective, though adults must be careful in using such products on young children.
World travelers are more common than they used to be, and it is difficult to know when the person you stand beside on the sidewalk has recently returned from an area, such as Africa or the Caribbean, in which diseases like chikungunya are commonly carried by mosquitoes. But with proper measures to protect against biting insects, there should not be too much about which to worry.
Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family this summer.