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Expat Exchange - Chikungunya Disease in Colombia
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Medellin, Colombia


Chikungunya Disease in Colombia

By Betsy Burlingame

Colombian Visa Services
Colombian Visa Services

Summary: If you're a moving to Colombia or recently arrived, it's important to know about Chikungunya Disease, which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Chikungunya is sometimes misdiagnosed as Zika Virus. Unfortunately, many report long-term joint pain following the initial illness.

If you've recently moved to Colombia or are planning to, it's essential to be aware of Chikungunya Disease, spread by mosquitoes. This illness is frequently confused with the Zika Virus, and many suffer from persistent joint pain after recovering from the initial symptoms.

Chikungunya virus, a mosquito-borne disease, has been a significant health concern in Colombia since its first outbreak in 2014. The virus, which causes severe joint pain and fever, has affected thousands of people across the country. This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of the Chikungunya virus in Colombia, its prevalence, prevention methods, and its impact on different age groups and individuals with compromised immunity.

What is Chikungunya Disease?

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes, primarily Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. The symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms include fever and severe joint pain, often in the hands and feet. Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Most patients feel better within a week, but in some cases, the joint pain may persist for months or even years. Long-term effects can include chronic joint pain and neurological complications. There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for Chikungunya; treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms.

Where is Chikungunya Most Prevalent in Colombia?

Chikungunya was first reported in Colombia in 2014, and since then, it has spread across the country. The virus is most prevalent in the tropical and subtropical regions where the Aedes mosquito thrives. These areas include the Caribbean region, the Pacific coast, and the Amazon region. The virus is less common in the high-altitude areas of the Andes, where the mosquito vector is less prevalent.

How do Expats in Colombia Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid Chikungunya. Expats in Colombia can take several measures to protect themselves. These include using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and staying in places with window and door screens or air conditioning. It's also important to eliminate mosquito breeding sites, such as containers with standing water, as mosquitoes that spread Chikungunya virus lay eggs near water.

What if I get Chikungunya Virus in Colombia?

If you get infected with the Chikungunya virus in Colombia, it's important to seek medical attention immediately. While there's no specific treatment for the virus, healthcare providers can help manage the symptoms. Rest and hydration are crucial, and over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce fever and alleviate joint pain. It's also important to avoid mosquito bites during the first week of infection to prevent further spread of the virus.

Is Chikungunya Virus Contagious?

Chikungunya virus is not directly contagious from person to person. The virus is primarily transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. However, a mosquito can pick up the virus from an infected person and then spread it to other people. Therefore, an infected person can indirectly contribute to the spread of the virus.

Is Chikungunya Virus More Dangerous for Children, Elderly or Immune-Compromised?

While Chikungunya virus can affect individuals of all ages, certain groups are at higher risk of severe disease. These include newborns exposed during delivery, older adults (?65 years), and people with medical conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease. In these individuals, the virus can lead to severe complications and even death. Therefore, it's particularly important for these high-risk groups to take preventive measures against mosquito bites.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


Colombian Visa Services
Colombian Visa Services

Colombian Visa Services
Colombian Visa Services

Medellin, Colombia

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SJB Global

SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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SJB Global is a top-rated financial advisory firm specializing in expat financial advice worldwide, offering retirement planning & tax-efficient solutions with a regressive fee model.
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