Buzzing to a City Near You: Chikungunya Virus

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AMCA Warns Public of Exotic Mosquito-borne Disease Spreading in Caribbean

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Chikungunya virus, a pathogen transmitted by mosquitoes, has seemingly established itself in the Caribbean and is now threatening the U.S. Puerto Rico has just recorded its first locally acquired case with travel-related cases being reported in Florida, Virginia, Arkansas, California, New York and Connecticut. Public health officials fear it has the potential to establish itself and spread to various areas. (1)

“This is a most concerning development, for the species of mosquitoes that transmit this disease elsewhere are quite common in areas of the eastern United States,” says Joseph Conlon, Technical Advisor of the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA).

The name “chikungunya” is attributed to the Kimakonde (a Mozambique dialect) word meaning “that which bends up.” The word describes the primary symptom – excruciating joint pain. Although rarely fatal, the symptoms are debilitating and may persist for several weeks.

The two mosquito species that transmit this disease are the Asian Tiger Mosquito (Aedes albopictus) and the Yellow Fever Mosquito (Aedes aegypti). Both species lay their eggs in containers such as cans, discarded tires and other items that hold water close to human habitation.

“Traditional mosquito methods of truck-mounted and aerial sprays are ineffective in controlling these mosquitoes,” says Conlon. “The best way to control chikungunya is through the removal of water-bearing containers. Sanitation is key.”

It’s difficult to predict whether chikungunya will establish itself in the United States, but public health departments and mosquito control districts in the southeast are gearing up public education, mosquito control and laboratory programs to meet the threat.

In the meantime, individuals can do their part by eliminating water sources providing mosquito breeding habitat around their homes. Bites can be prevented through the use of long-sleeve clothing and EPA-registered repellents such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and oil of lemon-eucalyptus.

About the American Mosquito Control Association
Celebrating 79 years of protecting public health in 2014, the American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) is an international not-for-profit public service professional association. With over 1,600 members worldwide in over 50 countries, AMCA is international in scope, and includes individuals and public agencies engaged in mosquito control, mosquito research and related activities. Please visit AMCA online at and follow AMCA on Twitter @AMCAupdates.

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Joseph M. Conlon
AMCA Technical Advisor
(904) 215-9660

(1)- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released this information on May 29, 2014.

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Lauren Schoener-Gaynor

Joseph M. Conlon, AMCA Technical Advisor