As the Midwest summer reaches its peak, I walk in the sand and find myself swarmed by mosquitos. Itchy, blotchy “bites” stto appear all over my body, but a Benadryl can easily solve that problem.
However, if I was a hypochondriac I wouldn’t even be outside. I would hide from the miniscule chance of Malaria, Yellow Fever, or even Chikungunya. How can one insect cause so much damage? Why has Chikungunya grazed our media headlines once again?
Mosquitos, while they may sound and look like a harmless flies, they are actually ectoparasites, meaning they live on the outside of their host (3). Mosquitos are infamous for their mouths that pierce our skin and siphon our blood (3). They inject saliva into us, causing an immune response in the form of itchiness and a small bump (3).
Rarely, this itchiness will be proceeded by a high fever, joint swelling, nausea, and even a rash (1) . This is Chikungunya. It is a viral disease only transported by infected mosquitos (2). It is rarely fatal, but has a miserable five to seven days worth of symptoms (1).
Chikungunya infection endemics have been seen in over forty countries (2). They are primarily found in Asia and Africa, but cases have appeared in North America in recent years (2) . Similar to Ebola, it can spread. This is why many doctors ask patients if they have been out of the country recently. On the bright side, it is certainly not a reason to stay inside. Chikungunya has less than a thousand cases annually (1) . It is simply a reminder to spray some DEET on yourself while you
roast s’mores around the fire.
“Chikungunya Virus.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Aug. 2017, http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/index.html.
“Chikungunya.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/chikungunya.
“American Mosquito Control Association.” Washington Conference – American Mosquito Control Association, http://www.mosquito.org/default.aspx.
Final Note: If you do not understand what a s’more is (last paragraph), it is a roasted marshmallow with chocolate, sandwiched between two graham crackers. It is a Midwest staple for bonfires on the beach. Try it with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups if you are looking for a dash of peanut butter!