As the first domestically-acquired cases of the “chikungunya” virus were confirmed in Florida less than a week ago, the Orange County Health Department requesting that residents take precautions to stay safe against mosquito-borne illnesses.
Orange County Health Director, Colleen Bridger, told WCHL that areas with standing water are ideal locations for mosquitoes to breed.
“The way you’re going to get this virus is through a mosquito bite if the mosquito is infected,” says Bridger. “The best way to prevent getting this is to prevent getting mosquito bites, and the best way to do that is to eliminate any breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Birdbaths, watering cans, all of those things should be dumped out every couple of days, because if there are any larvas growing in those pools of water, they will die when the pools of water go away.”
Bridger warns about when mosquitoes are typically active and what can be done to prevent bites from happening during those times.
“Dawn and dusk are the times when mosquitoes are most active,” says Bridger. “The best thing to do is to wear long sleeves and long pants, because they can’t bite you through the material. The other thing you can do is look for bug spray. There is effective bug spray that has deet, and then there is also effective bug spray that doesn’t have deet. So, if you don’t want to use deet, there are options available to you out there.”
Bridger says that though there is no treatment for the virus, it is not lethal and must simply run its course. Those who are suffering from the illness are recommended to go see a physician regardless.
“It’s a virus, so there isn’t a treatment that anybody can give them,” says Bridger. “It’s going to have to run its course, and for the vast majority of folks, while it’s not pleasant, it does run its course, and people get better. But, if you’re just feeling absolutely horrible, you should always go to your doctor, and there are things that he or she can give you to just help you feel better while your body is fighting off the virus.”
Following the first case of chikungunya being discovered in North Carolina, Bridger affirms that the virus has not been domesticated within North Carolina, and all known cases in the state have come from people that have travelled from outside the country in specific tropical locales.
“All of the cases in North Carolina have been people largely who’ve travelled to the Caribbean or some other tropical location,” she says.
For more about other mosquito-borne illnesses and how to prevent them, click here.