_Health - General Health

Jun 23, 2014 7:26 PM by Akeam Ashford

LA Health Officials Keeping Close Eye On Chikungunya Virus (CHIKV)

Louisiana health officials are investigating a new mosquito-borne illness.

The Chikungunya Virus or CHIKV is traditionally found in Africa and Asia, but has made its way to the U.S.

CHIKV is just an added threat to this year's mosquito season.

There have been 80 cases reported in the U.S., all were travelers visiting or returning to the country from affected areas, mostly in Asia.

According to the state Department of Health and Hospitals, there were 58 cases of the more common West Nile virus reported last year in the state. Of those reported, 34 were brain related and four were fatal.

So far this year, there are no reports of CHIKV in Louisiana.

"It has been detected here before, but only through a couple cases of fever related illness," said Glenn Stokes, Mosquito Control Contractors owner.

According to DHH, new virus is transmitted to people through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes contract the virus through infected humans.

Deaths are rare, but anyone with a weak immune system is at a higher risk of complications.

"The fewer mosquito bites you get the fewer chances your going to have in catching the disease," Stokes said. "No mosquito bites, no disease."

The company uses Sentinel chickens to detect where potentially harmful mosquito-borne illnesses are breading, though DHH officials say mosquito pools are the most effective form of mosquito disease surveillance.

Stokes said he has roughly 40 of the chickens placed in three parishes around Acadiana.

"We can determine if a mosquito went through that cage and bit that Sentinel chicken," Stokes said. "Then if antibodies are developed, we can tell the time period."

There are several things that can be done to cut back a mosquitoes nesting ground.

Stokes suggests residents walk their yard every few days and turn over items that could collect pools of water and trash. He also suggested maintaining yards of high grass and dead tree limbs.

"Eggs can be laid in something as small as a bottle cap," Stokes said. "The water stays there, then eggs are laid, and the adults emerge. It takes a very small amount of water."

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