Chikungunya Virus

A virus transmitted to people by mosquitoes, Chikungunya (pronounced chik - en - gun - ya) causes symptoms such as fever, joint pain, headache, muscle ache and rash. The illness is not believed to be fatal, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the head, joint and muscle aches may be severe and can be disabling. These symptoms usually occur within 3 to 7 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito.

Associated with tropical areas, the virus has not been regularly discovered in residents living in or around St. Charles County - but has been reported in travelers who've returned from areas such as the Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Central America, South America, Africa and Southern Asia.

There is no medicine or vaccine currently available to prevent the illness, but treatment involves minimizing the discomfort from the related symptoms. The best course of action is to follow traditional mosquito prevention activities - including routine use of mosquito repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and emptying areas where water is able to collect for longer than 3-7 days.