Chikungunya (pronounced chick-un-GOON-ya) is a viral disease similar to Dengue Fever in that it spreads to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Long a plague to tropical areas of Asia, India, and Africa—Chikungunya has infected roughly 250,000 Caribbean inhabitants (in mosquito-dominated areas like Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Haiti, and Martinique) since it’s arrival in December of 2013 and has even caused localized outbreaks in some parts of Europe as well as cropping up in North America.
Chikungunya infection typically presents itself in the sudden onset of these flu-like symptoms:
In fact, U.S. Public Health Officials deem the Chikungunya a threat—already 73 American travelers have returned from travel abroad with the disease home from abroad while 15 reported U.S. residents were infected in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s only a matter of time before outbreaks begin in the U.S., according to Paola Lichtenberger, the Director of the Tropical Medicine Program at the University of Miami.
Along with cold, clammy skin, Chikungunya often causes a rash to develop on the face, trunk, and limbs, which presents in tiny purple or red spots, or patches across the skin. However, only about half of those afflicted with Chikungunya disease develop this rash.