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Expat Exchange - Chikungunya Disease in Ecuador
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Vilcabamba, Ecuador


Chikungunya Disease in Ecuador

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: If you're a moving to Ecuador 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 Ecuador 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 is a mosquito-borne disease that has been a significant health concern in many parts of the world, including Ecuador. This article will delve into the specifics of the Chikungunya virus, its prevalence in Ecuador, and the measures that can be taken to prevent it, particularly for expats living in the country. It will also discuss the implications of contracting the virus and its potential long-term effects.

What is Chikungunya Disease?

Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes, specifically the Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus species. The symptoms typically appear between four to eight days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. These symptoms include high fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash. The joint pain is often debilitating and can vary in duration. Most patients recover fully, but in some cases, joint pain may persist for several months, or even years. Serious complications are rare, but can include heart complications, neurological disorders, and gastrointestinal complaints. There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for Chikungunya. Treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms.

Where is Chikungunya Most Prevalent in Ecuador?

Chikungunya was first detected in Ecuador in 2014 and has since spread throughout the country. The coastal regions of Ecuador are particularly affected due to the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which thrives in tropical and subtropical climates. Cities like Guayaquil and areas in the province of Manabi have reported high numbers of Chikungunya cases. However, the disease can occur in any part of the country where the mosquito vector is present.

How do Expats in Ecuador Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Prevention of mosquito bites is crucial in avoiding Chikungunya. Expats in Ecuador can take several measures to protect themselves. These include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, using mosquito repellents on exposed skin, and sleeping under mosquito nets. It's also important to eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying, covering, or treating any items that hold water, such as flower pots, buckets, and pool covers. Air-conditioned or screened-in housing can also help reduce the risk of mosquito bites.

What if I get Chikungunya Virus in Ecuador?

If you suspect you have contracted the Chikungunya virus in Ecuador, it's important to seek medical attention immediately. While there is no specific treatment for the disease, doctors can help manage symptoms. Rest and hydration are crucial, and over-the-counter pain relievers can help with fever and joint pain. It's also important to avoid mosquito bites 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 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 should avoid mosquito bites during the first week of illness to prevent further transmission.

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

While Chikungunya can affect individuals of all ages, the disease tends to be more severe in infants, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions. These individuals are more likely to experience complications and have a higher risk of severe disease. Therefore, it's particularly important for these groups to take preventive measures against mosquito bites and seek medical attention if they develop symptoms of Chikungunya.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.


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Vilcabamba, Ecuador

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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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