The Chikungunya virus (also known as Chik-V), a mosquito-borne ailment with no cure that is currently affecting approximately one million people, got a high-profile poster girl last week: Lindsay Lohan.
The actress, who was on vacation in the French Polynesia islands, acquired the virus and posted several shots to her social media accounts detailing her battle:
Though she appears to have now made a full recovery, Lohan's also managed to shine some light on a virus that is widespread across the Caribbean. Chik-V can cause severe joint and muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and fever. According to the WHO, the joint pain can be debilitating, and usually lasts only a few days, but in some cases, stays for weeks. It has no known cure or treatment at this point.
The virus originates in Africa, but has spread to a variety of locations where mosquitoes are found, possibly due to infected patients travelling and being bitten by native mosquitoes once they get home, according to Time. Last year, more than 200 cases were reported in Canada due to travel, reported the CBC.
The virus is of particular note for Canadians because many of the countries people visit during the winter have reported cases as recently as December, such as Bahamas, Jamaica, Dominican Republic and many more islands in the Caribbean — you can see a full list here.
While many hotels and tourist destinations are taking precautions against the virus by spraying for mosquitoes on a regular basis, those visiting affected countries are advised to wear long sleeves and pants during the day, pack (and use) plenty of mosquito repellent with DEET in it, and if you nap during the day, a mosquito net treated with insecticide is advised as well.
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