This little guy here, the Aedes Aegypti is responsible for Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue fever.
This mosquito is most active and likely to bit during the day, in the first few hours after sunrise and before sunset.
With the current worry about Zika virus and it’s possible association with microcephaly in newborns, it’s a good time to review the differences in these illnesses, Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue, all caused by viruses transmitted by a mosquito bite.
Symptoms of Zika
- Joint Pain
- Conjunctivitis or red eyes
- Muscle Aches
According to the Centers for Disease Control, CDC, Zika may be associated with microcephaly and other serious complications for newborn babies. I emphasize the words “may be” associated as this is being actively studied right now.
For people who live in areas where Zika is prevalent, here’s what you can do to protect yourself. First and foremost: Avoid getting bitten by mosquitos, by:
- Wearing long sleeve protective clothing
- Keep doors closed or stay in areas where there are screens or air conditioning
- Use insect repellant
- Stay away from standing water where these mosquitos breed
- Here’s more information for pregnant women who are concerned about the risks of Zika.
Many more people in the US have been exposed to the Chikungunya virus than Zika or Dengue Fever and is also transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Recently, I was working in Honduras and cared for many children who had recently recovered from Chikungunya. Luckily, they have all completely recovered.
With Chikungunya, the most serious long-term effect is that a few people may have persistent joint pain for many months after recovering from the fever and other symptoms.
There have been less than 700 cases reported in the US. Symptoms of Chikungunya usually begin 3-7 days after being bitten and most people feel better after 1 week.
- Severe joint pian
- Muscle Aches
- Swollen Joints
This is also transmitted by the same Aedes Aegypti mosquito as Zika and Chikungunya. Though the 100-200 cases in the US are thought to be from people who acquired it while traveling, Dengue fever, is and has been a significant concern for people in Puerto Rico and other tropical areas
Symptoms of Dengue Fever begin within 3 to 14 days of being bitten.
- High fever plus at least 2 of the following symptoms:
- Severe headache
- Severe pain behind the eyes
- Muscle aches
- Joint pain
A few cases of Dengue fever may progress to Dengue Hemorrhagic fever, which can be life-threatening. If you or someone you know has these symptoms, please see a health care provider immediately.
This list is from the Centers for Disease Control:
- Severe abdominal pain or persistent vomiting
- Red spots or patches on the skin
- Bleeding from nose or gums
- Vomiting blood
- Black, tarry stools (feces, excrement)
- Drowsiness or irritability
- Pale, cold, or clammy skin
- Difficulty breathing
Prevention is the key for all of these and other illnesses transmitted by mosquitos. Here’s a recap of prevention strategies:
o Wearing long sleeve protective clothing
o Keep doors closed or stay in areas where there are screens or air conditioning
o Use insect repellant
o Stay away from standing water where these mosquitos breed