Mosquito Virus Found in Caribbean Unlikely to Reach La Crosse - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Mosquito Virus Found in Caribbean Unlikely to Reach La Crosse

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LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) - The mosquito-borne virus called chikungunya has been slowly spreading across the globe and last December it was detected in the Caribbean.

Those infected suffer from fever and debilitating joint pain that can last for weeks. And there's no vaccine or medication to treat those who have been exposed.

So far, the virus has been confined to warmer areas and an outbreak in the La Crosse area is unlikely. The biggest threat, instead, is for those traveling to the Caribbean or other areas that the infection exists.

But because of its steady spread and recent transmission to the western hemisphere, there's a good chance we'll be hearing about the chikungunya virus much more in the future.

“Mainly the mosquitoes are sub tropical,” said  David McNamara, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist at Gundersen Health System. “We wouldn't expect to have large populations of those mosquitoes this far north. But I think this virus is going to become a public health challenge for southern states, probably including Florida.”

But while the chikungunya virus doesn't pose a big threat for those in the Midwest, other insect-borne illnesses do. And because of the wet weather this year, mosquito populations are flourishing.

“The combination this year of really high water into June really hurts us,” said Dave Geske, La Crosse Co. Vector Control Manager. “If we continue to have rainfall patterns like we've had it could be a pretty miserable summer”

One of the best ways to protect yourself is of course, using insect repellent. Another thing you can do is keep grass and other vegetation in your yard short since this is one of the places where mosquitoes like to hide out during the day.

And more importantly, make sure you don't leave containers out to collect water. Standing water is an ideal place for many mosquito species to breed.

More information on the chikungunya virus can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/.

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