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Having come from Canada where they joke that the national bird is the mosquito, you’ll find several references to these annoying pests on our blog (do a search). As much of a nuisance as mosquitos are up north, people don’t typically get extremely sick from their bite there. That is not the case in the islands though.

When we first arrived in Grenada several years ago, the buzz (I know, bad pun) was about protecting yourselves from mosquitos to avoid Dengue. While I did have one friend who acquired that nasty disease while visiting Brazil, he was the only person that I knew personally who had become so afflicted. While I’m sure that Dengue has not disappeared, the talk this year is about a new (?) disease called Chikungunya. Numerous cases have been reported and we personally know of several people who have come down with it.

The other day I copied this Virgin Islands health advisory from an internet post:

HEALTH ALERT: VI Health Dept. Urges Residents to Protect Against Chikungunya; 25 Cases Confirmed in STT-STJ District

The VI Department of Health is monitoring recent increases in the number of confirmed and suspected cases of chikungunya, a mosquito-borne disease. As of Wednesday, August 27th, the department has confirmed 25 cases of chikungunya in the St. Thomas-St. John district. There are no confirmed cases in the St. Croix district.

According to the Health Department, the symptoms of chikungunya are similar to dengue. The symptoms for chikungunya usually begin three-to-seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and may include fever, severe joint pains, often in the hands and feet, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. The symptoms can be severe and disabling. Most patients report improvement within a week.

The department is advising anyone experiencing symptoms of chikungunya or dengue to see a physician and avoid mosquito bites to prevent the spread of the disease. Until diagnosis is confirmed by a medical provider, residents are urged to take pain medications, like Tylenol, that will not cause bleeding complications. Pain medications characterized as NSAIDs, i.e., Aleve, Aspirin, etc., should be avoided.
Help prevent the spread of chikungunya by taking the following steps:

  • Use insect repellents – Repellents containing DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Mosquito proof your home by eliminating water sources that breed mosquito.
  • Use air conditioning or window / door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
  • Sleep under a mosquito bed net.
  • When weather permits, wear clothing that protects you from mosquito bites (long-sleeved shirts and long pants).
  • Treat clothing with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated clothing.
  • Protect infants: cover cribs, strollers and baby carriers with cotton mosquito netting at all times, day and night, both inside and outside of your home. Dress babies in loose cotton clothing that covers arms and leg.

To learn more about Chikungunya and ways to prevent the spread of the virus visit www.healthvi.org or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website at www.cdc.gov/chikungunya.

Are there mosquitos here? You bet. In fact, I can see a couple of them from where I’m sitting, probably full of my blood from dining on me last night! I guess I’d better break out the mosquito repellant.

9 Comments

  1. Interesting to see “oil of lemon eucalyptus” in the list of insect repellents compared equally to DEET. My wife and I recently started giving a homemade insect repellent a try that includes that essential oil and so far it seems to be working once we got the concentration right. It certainly smells better than the commercial products we can get and cheaper too.

    Keep those bugs at bay and stay healthy you guys!

    -Mike B.
    ThisRatSailed

      • I was going to wait a bit and do a post on it but you’ve inspired me to do the write up early so I’ll have more details on my blog soon…but the short version is: 4 fluid oz. of witch hazel (or alcohol or other carrier oil- something that will mix with an oil), 75 drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil, 4oz. of water. Put in a clean spray bottle and shake well before application (so the water/oil will be mixed during application).

        We initially started with about 25 drops of the oil based on some instructions found on the internet, but found that insufficient and increased to 75 and that did the trick for the 4oz carrier + 4oz water solution. We have tried it at dusk here in Colorado and it seems to be working well for us. There are a number of resources on the internet with varying recipes for “homemade essential oil bug spray”, with lists of essential oils to repel a variety of insects. I added the same amount of citronella essential oil to our mix as it is supposed to be good for noseeums, but haven’t been back to the coast to try it out yet. Hoping it will provide some relief for them too.

        -Mike
        ThisRatSailed

  2. Well, after reading your blog from the beginning, I feel like I would recognize you on the streets of New York. Congratulations on your journey to date. Like it has been said, “The journey is much more fun than the destination.” Thanks for sharing all the information. I am a much more informed wannabe cruiser. Going to our first boat show next week!

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