A New, Terrifying Mosquito Borne Virus Hits The United States

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As if itching and burning weren’t enough of a reason to keep the bug spray close, a new disease carried by mosquitoes has been identified in the United States – and it’s a real doozy. The chikungunya virus manifests with high fever and intense pain that can last years – and there is no treatment. So far only 28 people in the U.S have been afflicted with the disease, but some researchers believe that it is likely to start spreading.

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Chikungunya virus is spread by two mosquitos (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus), both of which are known for being aggressive and for biting even during the day. The disease has been around for centuries but one strain started last fall in the Caribbean and it has been spreading quickly – there are now over 103,000 people afflicted by the disease there, according to the CDC. The virus causes fever, pain, joint swelling, headaches and muscle pain and though it isn’t fatal, the disease has no cure or treatment and the pain can last anywhere from a week to years.

There haven’t been any cases of an individual contracting the disease from a mosquito in the U.S. Those who have the disease contracted it while traveling out of the country and have brought it back with them. But now that it is in the country, there is a high risk that it will eventually spread, particularly in Florida where the warm weather allows the mosquito that carry the virus to survive year round. Travelers heading to the Caribbean, South America or Southeast Asia should be cautious to avoid being bitten, and for those in the U.S., screened windows and mosquito repellent are the first guard against the disease.