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Chikungunya: It has nothing to do with chickens

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- It's that time of year again. The sun's shining, the grass is growing, summer vacations are in sight, and the bugs are coming out. 

Understanding the risks associated with international travel could make all the difference in your post-vacation recovery.  

Many associate the warm, humid months with an increase in mosquitoes; however, mosquitoes are more than just a nuisance. 

They have the ability to transmit a large variety of diseases such as the commonly known Malaria and Dengue Fever, to newly emerging diseases like Chikungunya. 

You read that right ... newly emerging diseases. 

Chikungunya has been on the Public Health radar in recent years. Most outbreaks occur in Africa, Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Central America and South America. 

In 2014, thousands of travel-related Chikungunya cases were reported in the United States. Additionally, local transmission has moved as close to home as Florida. Local transmission means mosquitoes in the area have been infected with the virus and are spreading it to people.  

Chikungunya is a viral disease that causes fever, severe joint pain, headache, nausea, extreme fatigue and rash. 

Those symptoms usually begin three to seven days after exposure. Unfortunately, while symptoms can be alleviated with rest, fluids and prescriptions to relieve fever and pain, there's no known cure for Chikungunya. Although the illness is rarely fatal, it's debilitating and can cause long-term damage in severe cases.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are several measures to stop exposure to Chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases:

-The mosquitoes that transmit the Chikungunya virus bite mostly during the daytime. Use air conditioning or window and door screens to keep them outside.

-Help reduce the number of mosquitoes outside your home or hotel room by emptying standing water from flowerpots and buckets.

-When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.

-Use insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide long-lasting protection.

-If you use both sunscreen and insect repellent, apply the sunscreen first.  

-Don't spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.

-Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing. 

-Always follow the label instructions when using insect repellent or sunscreen. Any time you're traveling outside the U.S., come by Public Health, or call (478) 327-8019, for information on protecting your health while traveling.

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