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Expat Exchange - Chikungunya Disease in Peru
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Chikungunya Disease in Peru

By Betsy Burlingame

Mondly by Pearson
Mondly by Pearson

Summary: If you're a moving to Peru 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 Peru 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 various parts of the world, including Peru. This article aims to provide comprehensive information about the Chikungunya virus in Peru, its symptoms, prevalence, prevention methods, and its impact on different age groups and those 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 name "Chikungunya" derives from a word in the Kimakonde language, meaning "to become contorted," referring to the stooped appearance of sufferers due to joint pain. Symptoms typically begin 3–7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and include fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue, and rash. Most patients feel better within a week, but in some cases, joint pain may persist for months or even years. Long-term effects can include joint pain and arthritis-like symptoms that can last from months to years. There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for Chikungunya; treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms.

Where is Chikungunya Most Prevalent in Peru?

Chikungunya was first reported in Peru in 2015. Since then, it has been most prevalent in the northern regions of the country, particularly in the regions of Piura, Lambayeque, La Libertad, and Tumbes. These areas have a tropical climate, which provides a suitable environment for the Aedes mosquitoes to breed. However, cases have been reported in other parts of the country as well, making it a nationwide concern.

How do Expats in Peru Prevent Mosquito Bites?

Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid Chikungunya. Expats in Peru can take several measures to protect themselves. These include using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and ensuring that accommodations are mosquito-proof by using window and door screens or air conditioning. It's also advisable to eliminate mosquito breeding sites by emptying, covering, or treating any items that hold water, such as flower pots, buckets, and pool covers.

What if I get Chikungunya Virus in Peru?

If you suspect you have contracted the Chikungunya virus in Peru, it's crucial to seek medical attention immediately. While there is no specific treatment for the disease, doctors can help manage symptoms. Rest and hydration are essential, 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. It requires a mosquito as a vector to transmit the disease. When a mosquito bites an infected person, it can then carry the virus and transmit it to other people through bites. However, it's important to note that the virus can be transmitted from a pregnant woman to her newborn at birth.

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

While Chikungunya can affect individuals of all ages, severe cases are more common in infants, the elderly, and those with underlying health conditions. These groups are more likely to develop complications such as severe joint pain, neurological complications, and heart-related issues. Therefore, it's particularly important for these individuals to take preventive measures against mosquito bites and seek immediate medical attention if they develop symptoms of Chikungunya.

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.


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