The Alabama Department of Public Health is urging visitors or missionaries who travel to the Caribbean to be aware and reduce the risks of becoming infected with the mosquito-borne illness known as chikungunya.
The ADPH says it has confirmed, as of July 17, at least three cases of chikungunya in Alabama as well as 2 other preliminary positive test results. In each case, the infected person had traveled to Haiti or other parts of the Caribbean.
The most common symptoms of infection include fever and joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.
There is no vaccine or medicine available for prevention of chikungunya.
"Preventing mosquito bites can be difficult, but it is important because you can get sick after just one bite," Assistant State Health Officer for Disease Control and Prevention Dr. Mary G. McIntyre said. "Mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya bite during the day, so any time you're outside use mosquito repellent and wear long sleeves and pants."
The ADPH offers these tips to reduce and prevent exposure:
When traveling to known endemic areas for chikungunya including Haiti, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and other areas, travelers are advised:
Protect yourself from mosquito bites by using mosquito netting.
Use permethrin-treated clothing and gear (such as boots, pants, socks and tents). You can buy pre-treated clothing and gear or treat them yourself.
Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See the product information to find out how long the protection will last.
If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
Do not use permethrin directly on skin.
Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
These cases serve as a reminder that people need to protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites while at home and away.
To reduce your exposure to mosquitoes:
Stay indoors, especially during the dusk and dawn hours when mosquitoes are most active.
Some mosquitoes that transmit diseases, such as the Asian tiger mosquito, are active during the day, so while outdoors wear light-colored, tightly woven, loose clothing and insect repellent.
Wear enough insect repellent to cover skin and clothes.
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