Expert: Chikungunya Could Infect 1 million in the first 90 Days of a US Outbreak
Everybody’s taking about chikungunya, and with good reason. It’s right on our doorstep, and when the inevitable outbreak hits the southeastern US, the disease will spread like wildfire. According to one expert, it could infect 1 million Americans in the first 90 days.
When the virus is introduced to an area where no one has immunity and the mosquitoes required to spread it are present, an epidemic can spread with frightening speed. When an epidemic strikes, the rate of infection grows rapidly until approximately 30-50% of the population develops immunity. And while the news media in the U.S. has been focused on whether Sarah Palin will join The View, chikungunya has been on the move in the Caribbean…
If I am correct and the Southeastern United States is about to have an epidemic similar to the one in the Dominican Republic, we’d have one million cases in the first ninety days! That would make for a few headlines.
While chikungunya isn’t deadly, it’s definitely not a cakewalk. It’s bad enough that the symptoms involve a bout of high fever, swelling of the legs, and extreme joint pain, but the real problem is that the joint pain can continue for decades after an infection. In this respect, it’s sort of like the Lyme disease, but it will spread far faster and wider since it’s mosquito borne. (Note that Lyme disease is a bacterial infection, while chikungunya is viral).
Right now, as in this week, is the time to start stocking up on high-powered mosquito repellent. Because when this outbreak hits, and some experts are warning that an outbreak is inevitable, there won’t be a single drop of mosquito repellent left on a shelf anywhere.
Note that while I’m not familiar with the author of this post, Jeff Danner, I found it via Crof’s flu blog. This is one of the most highly respected infectious disease blog’s out there, and the proprietor doesn’t link alarmist nonsense.