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Tennessee Department of Health urges Travelers to Protect Themselves from Mosquitoes
Posted By Clarksville Online News Staff On Monday, March 30, 2015 @ 11:30 pm In News | No Comments
Nashville, TN – The Tennessee Department of Health is reminding vacation and business travelers about the importance of protecting themselves from mosquitoes that may transmit chikungunya virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue.
The first confirmed case of chikungunya virus disease in Tennessee occurred in 2014; since then 42 additional cases have been documented, all involving travel outside the state.
“Travel plans to warmer destinations should include necessary precautions to avoid mosquito bites,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “Because there is no vaccine to prevent chikungunya virus disease, the only way to prevent its spread is the effective use of repellants and personal protection strategies.”
Prior to 2013, chikungunya virus disease was found primarily in Africa, Asia, Europe and in the Indian and Pacific Ocean areas. The illness draws its name from an African word meaning “to become contorted” as most patients suffer from severe joint pain. Chikungunya is rarely fatal, but can cause fever, joint and muscle pain, headaches, fatigue and rash. It can also lead to chronic joint pain. In the past year, health organizations have reported the disease spreading in additional areas, including the Caribbean and the Americas.
“Since it first surfaced here chikungunya has sickened more than one million people in 44 countries and territories in the Western Hemisphere,” Dreyzehner said. “We take the growing threat of chikungunya seriously and we are worried we will see more of it.”
Reason for Concern: The number of cases of chikungunya continues to rise in the Caribbean, South America and Mexico, increasing the chances for American travelers to become infected with chikungunya. Chikungunya and dengue are very similar mosquito-borne illnesses; both go from mosquito to human to mosquito directly. Dengue symptoms include high fever, severe headache and muscle/bone pain.
“People at risk for more serious effects from chikungunya virus disease include newborns, those over age 65 and those with health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure,” said Abelardo Moncayo, PhD, director of the TDH Vector-Borne Diseases program. “While there is no medicine to treat or cure the infection, rest, fluids to prevent dehydration and medicines like acetaminophen to relieve fever and pain are helpful. Fortunately, once a person has been infected with chikungunya, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections, and the disease rarely results in death.”
Chikungunya is the latest mosquito bite-borne threat to travelers that threatens to become more common as ill travelers return home and mosquitoes that bite them can sicken other people. Other, longer-standing threats include dengue, malaria and West Nile virus. None of these illnesses are prevented by vaccine, so the Tennessee Department of Health urges you to use repellents to help prevent mosquito bites.
For additional information about chikungunya virus disease, visit: www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/index.html 
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. TDH has facilities in all 95 counties and provides direct services for more than one in five Tennesseans annually as well as indirect services for everyone in the state, including emergency response to health threats, licensure of health professionals, regulation of health care facilities and inspection of food service establishments.
Learn more about TDH services and programs at http://health.state.tn.us/. 
Article printed from Clarksville, TN Online: https://www.clarksvilleonline.com
URL to article: https://www.clarksvilleonline.com/2015/03/30/tennessee-department-of-health-urges-travelers-to-protect-themselves-from-mosquitoes/
URLs in this post:
 www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/index.html: http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/index.html
 http://health.state.tn.us/.: http://health.state.tn.us/.
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