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While everyone is freaking out about the Ebola virus currently raging through Africa, there’s a virus the Pennsylvania State Department of Health (PADOH) would like you to actually be concerned about: the chikungunya virus.

In an alert distributed last month, the public health agency says that it is “reporting three imported chikungunya (CHIK) cases in travelers returning from the Caribbean in 2014.”

Now, while it sounds like something we shouldn’t be concerned about because  it’s only affecting faraway travelers now home in Pennsylvania, PADOH says that we should care about it because of how it is transmitted: mosquitoes.

After all, considering it’s summer, we’re all at-risk of a good ol’ fashioned mosquito bite.

There’s also no CHIK vaccine, either, so people just have to suffer with the illness until it goes away. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that symptoms of chikungunya include fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. Unlike the Ebola virus which everyone should be concerned about but shouldn’t be freaking out about, chikungunya is not fatal for the vast majority of people infected. The CDC says, though, that it can debilitating and put you out of commission for some time.

Also unlike Ebola, chickungunya is actually now in Pennsylvania.

The Morning Call reports that the easiest way to way to prevent mosquito-borne viruses is to control the mosquito population. Unfortunately, though, the Corbett administration recently cut Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection’s mosquito-control budget by 26 percent.

Let’s hear it for small government!

Apparently, the mosquito-borne virus mirrors a more widely known virus known as dengue fever. CHIK reminds us of West Nile virus, too, which is fatal for a small number of people. Basically, every virus related to mosquitoes is terrible.

As such, people with compromised immune systems, infants, and the elderly are at highest risk of serious infection. Still, it’s more a nasty flu than anything else.

About The Author

Contributing columnist

Josh Kruger is an award-winning writer and commentator in Philadelphia. His @PhillyWeekly column, “The Uncomfortable Whole,” took the 2014 First Place Spotlight Award for weekly newspaper commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists and the 2014 Second Place Award for weekly newspaper commentary in the United States and Canada from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia. He also blogs daily for PW on various topics including queer culture and news, mass transit, politics, crime, drugs, HIV/AIDS, civil liberties, activism, media and everything else Philly.

One Response

  1. 8/12 Morning Buzz | PoliticsPA

    […] WHYY Newsworks: Philly recognized for efforts to get tax benefit to city’s poor Phillynow.com: Mosquito-transmitted virus now in Pennsylvania, but the Corbett administration cut mosquito control […]

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