Mosquito-borne virus hits Georgia - WVTM-TV Birmingham, AL

Mosquito-borne virus hits Georgia

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A new mosquito-borne virus has hit Georgia. The first patient to contract Chikungunya in the state got it while on a trip to the Caribbean.

Chikungunya can't be transmitted from human-to-human, just from mosquitoes to humans, and so far, the insects carrying the virus haven't made it to the US. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention reports that more than 60 cases of Chikungunya have been reported in the US so far, and that number is growing as people travel to the Caribbean, Africa, and Southeast Asia.

The symptoms include fever, nausea, vomiting, rashes and pain, and they don't appear for three to seven days after a mosquito bites you. Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Beverley Townsend says it's important to go straight to the doctor as soon as you feel sick.

"If you've gone to some of those areas and you start getting symptoms," she says, "that's even more of a clue that something is going on that you really need to be tested for, whether it's this disease or malaria or just different things that you really need to be tested for."

The dangerous stage of Chikungunya, however, is the few days before you feel sick. Townsend says, "That's when they're really contagious before they really get their symptoms, and then a mosquito can bite them, and then it's transmitted to another person after the mosquito bites them and transmits it."

To protect yourself, the Health Department suggests using the five D's. First, look for mosquitoes during the Dusk and Dawn, the times they're most active. Two, Dress in loose-fitting clothes to keep mosquitoes off your skin. Three, use a bug spray with DEET, the most effective repellent. Four, Drain any containers of standing water, the breeding ground of mosquitoes. Finally, inspect your Doors and windows for cracks to make sure mosquitoes don't sneak into your home.

Townsend says prevention is the most important thing in a place like Georgia with lots of mosquitoes, insects that can carry a cocktail of viruses. "It's not just this disease," she says. "It could be another disease, that are much more deadly like the West Nile Virus, so we have concern from a public health standpoint of diseases that are a lot more deadly."

Townsend says if you do contract the virus, just be careful to avoid other mosquitoes while you're sick to prevent the spread of the illness. While symptoms typically go away within a week, joint pain can continue for months after you recover from the virus.

Jessi Mitchell

Jessi joined the WRBL news team in October 2012 after working as a freelance production assistant for MTV Networks in Los Angeles.

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