Mosquitoes are a constant pest that everyone agrees we’d be better off without. Aside from being a nuisance when we want to enjoy nice weather, mosquitoes are also well known for giving us red bumps and itchy skin for days after they bite. However, these insects can do a lot worse than just give you a spot to scratch. Like West Nile virus before it, Chikungunya virus has been making headlines this past year and we largely have mosquitoes to thank for it.

What Does This Virus Do?

The most common symptoms that accompany infection include joint pain and severe fever. Other symptoms people have reported are muscle pain, headache, rash and joint swelling. While some people may not show any symptoms, the majority of those who have been infected by Chikungunya virus display some combination of the above. Generally, these symptoms will show themselves within three to seven days after infection takes place.

Fortunately, death by Chikungunya virus is still rare. However, the severity of the above symptoms cannot be exaggerated and are sometimes so bad, they become disabling. Most, though, improve within a week. Some unlucky people may experience their joint pain for months. Once recovered, an individual is most likely immune from further infections.

Some people are at risk for a more severe version of Chikungunya virus. The elderly (those over 65) and people with heart disease, diabetes or high blood pressure are candidates. Newborns who get infected shortly after birth are also prone to worse bouts of the disease. (more…)