Just weeks after actress Lindsey Lohan reported contracting the mosquito borne virus, chikungunya while vacationing in French Polynesia in December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have updated their travel notice for the South Pacific islands.
On October 11, 2014, Tahiti reported locally transmitted chikungunya cases for the first time. Local transmission means that mosquitoes in the area have been infected with chikungunya and are spreading it to people.
Chikungunya cases have also been reported on the Austral and Palliser Islands.
The CDC reports in the notice that more than 51,100 cases of chikungunya have been reported in French Polynesia since the start of the outbreak on October 10, 2014. The total number of chikungunya related deaths remains at nine.
There is currently no vaccine or medicine to prevent chikungunya. The only way to prevent chikungunya is to prevent mosquito bites. Preventing bites can be difficult, but it is important as you can get sick after just one bite.
The federal health agency recommend that high-risk groups; people who have arthritis, people with serious underlying medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes), people older than 65 and women who are late in their pregnancies, because of the risk to babies born at the time their mother is sick, should discuss their travel plans with their doctor.
Follow these steps to reduce the chances that you will be bitten by mosquitoes during your trip: Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats; Use an appropriate insect repellent as directed and stay and sleep in screened or air conditioned rooms.