The Caribbean: Paradise Disrupted

Ah, the warm, sunny beaches, the warm, crystal-blue waters, the mosquito-borne virus whose name means “contorted with pain“.

The virus is chikungunya, derived from an African word that loosely translates as “contorted with pain.”

The first case was confirmed last December; now thousands of cases are showing up.

SAN CRISTOBAL, Dominican Republic (AP) — They suffer searing headaches, a burning fever and so much pain in their joints they can barely walk or use their hands. It’s like having a terrible flu combined with an abrupt case of arthritis.

Thought to have been brought into the Caribbean by an infected jet passenger, it’s now spreading like the proverbial wildfire, meaning that it’s likely just a matter of time before it shows up here in the USA. Here in the Pacific Northwest, though, it shouldn’t be a problem:

The two species of mosquitoes that spread chikungunya are found in the southern and eastern United States and the first local transmissions could occur this summer given the large number of U.S. travelers to the Caribbean, Nasci said.

The only treatment is pain medication and fluids; apart from that, you’re on your own. The good news is that not many people have died, and those are all suspected to have had underlying conditions that contributed to their demise. Better yet, if you recover, you’re immune for life, so you only go through it all once.

Still, it might be a good idea to re-think that whole ban on DDT thing. Granted, indiscriminate spraying as was done back in the day was too much of a reasonably good thing, but for local mosquito control, there’s still nothing that can beat it.

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About maxredlines

experience: biology, zoology, psychology. authored/co-authored papers appearing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, as well as numerous professional proceedings. authored articles appearing in computer-oriented publications. featured in publications ranging from books to New Yorker magazine to television.
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