The really big worry in Infectious disease circles is that Bird flu might have mutated and passed from a man to his father in rural China.

But another serious but rarely fatal disease has made another leap, from one mosquito to another mosquito, the so called Asian tiger mosquito, one that can survive in colder climates and one that is now commonly seen in the Americas and Europe (and here in the Philippines and Asia, of course).
Chikungunya virus has rarely been reported in northern climates. But the tiger mosquito, also carries yellow fever, West Nile Virus, and Dengue fever.

There was Europe” href=””>an outbreak of Chikungunya virus in Italy in September, and doctors are worried.

It is the first time indigenous transmission of the virus has been detected in Europe and raises the threat that it could spread to other countries, including the UK. The virus is transmitted by the mosquito Aedes albopictus which is common in southern Europe and has been found as far north as Belgium.

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Those who have the infection have fever and achyness, especially joint pain. Sometimes there is a rash, and people feel very fatigued, but isn’t usually fatal.Usually you’re sick for one to two weeks. It’s symptoms are similar to Dengue fever, and there is no treatment except mild analgesics. The main way to stop the spread is to use insecticides and insect repellant.

From the CDC’s Fact sheet:

Acute chikungunya fever typically lasts a few days to a couple of weeks, but as with dengue, West Nile fever, o’nyong-nyong fever and other arboviral fevers, some patients have prolonged fatigue lasting several weeks. Additionally, some patients have reported incapacitating joint pain, or arthritis which may last for weeks or months. The prolonged joint pain associated with CHIKV is not typical of dengue. Co-circulation of dengue fever in many areas may mean that chikungunya fever cases are sometimes clinically misdiagnosed as dengue infections, therefore the incidence of chikungunya fever could be much higher than what has been previously reported.

No deaths, neuroinvasive cases, or hemorrhagic cases related to CHIKV infection have been conclusively documented in the scientific literature.

There was an outbreak in the Philippines twenty years ago, and it made a lot of US Peace Corps volunteers sick. Then there was a huge epidemic on Reunion Island two years ago, a small French island in the Indian Ocean, and then it spread to India.

If it does start spreading with this new mosquito, expect hyteria similar to that when the West Nile Virus a couple years ago.

So one more reason to coat yourself with insect repellant next summer.

If you can’t pronounce Chikungunya, just call it by it’s other name: BuggyCreek virus.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket, and she writes on medical issues at HeyDoc Xanga Blog 

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