Painful African Virus Hitting USA Through Central America

AP Photo/WGBH/Nova
AP Photo/WGBH/Nova

An African virus has been spreading inside the USA via Central America and the Caribbean, and according to authorities it appears that this invader isn’t going away any time soon.

The chikungunya virus (pronounced “chicken-goon-ya”) causes severe joint and muscle pains that is so bad sufferers can’t even stand up after contracting the sickness.

The mosquito-borne virus was once relegated only to Asia and Africa, but since last year it made its way to to several islands in the Caribbean, then westward into South and Central America and into Florida and the region of the USA around the Gulf of Mexico.

The WHO says the disease was first identified in southern Tanzania in 1952. The name “chikungunya” is derived from a word in the Kimakonde language meaning “to become contorted.” It describes the stooped appearance of sufferers wracked with joint pain. It is rarely fatal but is an extremely painful and fast developing disease.

The CDC reports that there is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat chikungunya. Once you get it, it just has to run its course.

Authorities say that the only way to prevent outbreaks of the fast-moving disease is to eliminate standing water and continue to engage in mosquito abatement programs.

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