Protect Yourself from Mosquito-Borne Diseases
Taking a break from the chilly weather to visit a warmer climate this winter?
Don’t forget to pack your mosquito repellent.
Over the past few years, two mosquito-borne diseases--chikungunya and dengue--have been transmitted in increasing numbers to California residents visiting Latin America and Hawaii. Symptoms of chikungunya include acute onset of fever and severe joint pain. Dengue is characterized by high fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pain, rash, and in severe cases bleeding manifestations. Neither disease can be passed person-to-person.
Although mosquitoes are generally not active in Northern California at this time of year, they remain a health concern in popular winter destinations such as Hawaii, Mexico, and Southern California, according to Chief of the Vector-Borne Disease Section of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Dr. Vicki Kramer. “We do get reports of imported cases of dengue and chikungunya during the winter months,” said Dr. Kramer.
Dengue and chikungunya are transmitted in Latin America, including the tourist areas of Baja and Cabo San Lucas. Dengue is found on the Big Island of Hawaii. Chikungunya has also been reported in countries throughout the Caribbean.
“We want all Californians to be extra careful when traveling to these regions and to take steps to avoid mosquito bites,” said Dr. Karen Smith, CDPH Director. “The mosquitoes that transmit chikungunya and dengue are aggressive daytime biters.”
To prevent infection from mosquito bites, travelers should wear protective clothing and apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535 according to label instructions.
People returning from these areas who think they might have been exposed to either disease should contact a medical provider immediately and tell the doctor where they traveled. In the meantime, they should prevent the possible transmission of the disease to local mosquitoes by protecting themselves from further bites.