Is Chikungunya Heading to Louisiana?

April 30, 2014By

It seems like each year brings a new and frightening health threat from outside the nation’s borders. The avian flu, Ebola, mad cow disease…these are just a few of the most notable.

This year’s big scare is something different – chikungunya. Borne by mosquitoes, this virus brings fever, rash and joint pain, and it can be difficult to detect, much less eradicate.

Is this frightening health condition on its way to your home in Louisiana? Yes, it’s possible.

Where It’s Located

The most at-risk areas of the globe currently include most of Africa, all of Indonesia, the southern nations in the Middle East, India, parts of China, and other Asian nations, as well as some European countries. However, it has also been found in the Caribbean (St. Maarten, to be specific).

The WHO notes that almost 40 different countries are at risk. While it has not yet made an appearance in the US, the disease has spread throughout the Caribbean, with the CDC listing the following nations as having reported cases of chikungunya:

  • St. Maarten
  • St. Kitts
  • Guadeloupe
  • Anguilla
  • Dominica
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Martinique
  • French Guiana
  • Saint Barthelemy
  • The Dominican Republic

It took only weeks for the virus to spread to these locations.

Is It Coming to Louisiana?

While there’s no “surefire” way to determine if the chikungunya virus will show up in Louisiana, authorities are not taking any chances, and are gearing up with an awareness program to help ensure that residents of the state understand the threat, how the disease is transmitted, and what they can do to minimize their risks of contracting chikungunya. The virus is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, and appropriate steps should be taken to mitigate your risk of being bitten.

Why Louisiana?

Louisiana is not alone in its preparation for the arrival of this debilitating virus. Other Southeastern states are also readying prevention programs, including Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and more. States as far north as New Jersey are taking action currently. Essentially, any state that sees significant travel to and from the Caribbean can become home to imported cases of the virus. However, only those states with the right environment for mosquitoes to thrive (and the specific species of mosquito that carries chikungunya) are at risk for developing autonomous (native) cases.

The St. Tammany Parish mosquito abatement district is a prime example of how Louisiana is gearing up to meet this new invasive threat. Extra money was budgeted for mosquito spray, as well as for spray delivery systems, including from aircraft and helicopters, according to The Advocate. Mosquito breeding area elimination is the most important consideration for homeowners, although purchasing mosquito repellant as well as wearing the right clothing when outdoors is also important.

Eliminating Breeding Grounds

In preparation, homeowners throughout Louisiana should take steps to eliminate any mosquito breeding grounds around their homes and yards. Essentially, anything that holds water can become a breeding ground, including old tires, birdbaths, pots and planters and more. If water collects in something around your yard, at least turn it over. Better yet, remove it from your yard. However, not all threats are so easily eliminated. Other areas that can become breeding grounds for disease carrying mosquitoes includes tree root systems where water pools and any area of the yard where standing water gathers.

Louisiana residents concerned with ensuring their homes are as safe as possible from this frightening threat are urged to contact Fischer Environmental. Our certified technicians can inspect your yard and home, identifying and treating any potential threat. Call us today at 800-391-2565 for a threat assessment.

 

Sources:

http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs327/en/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/body/chikungunya-outbreak/

http://theadvocate.com/home/8528033-125/health-officials-prepare-for-chikungunya

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