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Expat Exchange - Chikungunya Disease in Italy
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Monopoli, Italy


Chikungunya Disease in Italy

By Joshua Wood, LPC

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Summary: If you're a moving to Italy 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 Italy 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 Italy in recent years. The virus, which originated in Africa, has spread to Europe and other parts of the world, causing outbreaks and raising public health concerns. This article will delve into the specifics of the Chikungunya virus in Italy, its symptoms, prevalence, prevention methods, and its impact on different age groups and those with compromised immune systems.

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 usually appear between four to eight days after the mosquito bite and can include high fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash. The joint pain is often debilitating and can last for weeks or even months. In some cases, the disease can lead to long-term effects such as persistent joint pain, eye, neurological and heart complications. While the disease is rarely fatal, the symptoms can be severe and disabling.

Where is Chikungunya Most Prevalent in Italy?

The first local transmission of Chikungunya virus in Italy was reported in 2007 in the northeastern region of Emilia-Romagna. Since then, several outbreaks have occurred, particularly in the regions of Lazio and Calabria. The Aedes albopictus mosquito, also known as the Asian tiger mosquito, is widespread in Italy, particularly in urban and semi-urban areas, making these regions vulnerable to the transmission of the virus.

How do Expats in Italy Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Preventing mosquito bites is the most effective way to avoid Chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases. Expats in Italy are advised to use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and ensure their living and working spaces are well-screened or air-conditioned. It's also recommended to eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying, covering, or treating any items that hold water, such as plant pots, buckets, and pools. Mosquito nets and coils can also be used, especially during peak mosquito activity hours, which are early morning and late afternoon.

What if I get Chikungunya Virus in Italy?

If you suspect you have contracted the Chikungunya virus in Italy, it's crucial to seek medical attention immediately. While there is no specific antiviral drug treatment for Chikungunya, symptomatic treatment is available. This includes medication to reduce fever and pain, and ample rest and fluids to prevent dehydration. 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 getting bitten by mosquitoes during the first week of illness to prevent further transmission.

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

While Chikungunya virus can affect individuals of all ages, severe cases are more likely to occur in infants, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions. These individuals are at a higher risk of developing complications such as severe joint pain, eye and neurological complications, and heart diseases. Therefore, it's particularly important for these high-risk groups to take preventive measures against mosquito bites and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms occur.

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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