Will My Trip to Colombia be Chikungunya-free? June 15, 2015 By Will Sowards Leave a Comment Chikungunya has made headlines recently with its swift spread throughout the Caribbean. Since the beginning of 2015, almost 300,000 cases have been reported. Interestingly, however, more than 68 percent of these have come from one country: Colombia. The mosquito-borne virus causes fever and joint pain that can, in some cases, last for months. Though not often fatal, it can still debilitate and has left some of the more than 200,000 plus patients in Colombia with issues ranging from mild arthritis-like pain to chronic pain and disability. Planning an international vacation? Have your passport ready before you go! Get your travel documents through Passport Health today! “Since last month I have been dragging my feet when I walk around the house, as if they were made of iron, and every day I wake up with a new and intense pain,” said one elderly Colombian woman in a Doctor’s Without Borders field report released in May. “In all this time there has not been a day when I don’t have a fever, my head doesn’t hurt or I don’t wake up with swollen hands and ankles.” Much like it’s cousin Dengue fever, CHIKV often goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed as influenza because of the similarity of symptoms. Both mosquito-borne diseases share another commonality: they are almost impossible to stop. The mosquitoes that deliver chikungunya have a very similar temperament to those that spread Dengue, preferring damp indoor locations like shower areas or toilet tanks, to outdoor hiding spots. This makes eliminating them through fumigation a slow task. Doctors Without Borders has helped in the elimination effort with manual spraying in about 10,000 homes. However, this protection will only help around 50,000 people. There is still much that needs to be done to help those affected by this virus in Colombia and other areas throughout the globe. Groups like the World Health Organization are trying to do everything possible to stop the spread of the virus to new countries. Be Bug Ready! Dengue is spreading. Be prepared and visit a Passport Health Travel Clinic today! For travelers to Colombia and other affected regions, there are a few key steps that must be taken to stay as safe as possible including: using mosquito repellents, wearing long sleeves when possible, keeping windows closed and using mosquito netting. No vaccine nor prophylaxis (such as antimalarial medication) exists to fight chikungunya. If you are traveling to one of the affected regions, especially Colombia, schedule an appointment with your local Passport Health Travel Specialist to learn more about what you should do to protect yourself against mosquito-borne viruses like chikungunya. For more information on these type of diseases, visit our dengue fever and malaria pages. Have you had an experience with CHIKV? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter pages or in the comments below.