Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 13 Old 04-21-2014 Thread Starter
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Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean

I have been following this story since it was first reported last year - mainly because I am going down to the BVI's in June with a group of charterers. I'll be serving as captain, and I thought it my responsibility to report to them on the problem. I also wondered if anyone on Sailnet had mentioned it and a search of all forums found nothing. So, in case you don't have enough to worry about, I introduce you to Chikungunya.

What is Chikungunya? A dengue fever like virus straight from Africa. The first article I saw was from AP and can be found here. The virus was first reported in St. Martin and since has spread to multiple Caribbean Islands including the Dominican Republic, It is making a quick march to the USA and Bahamas. It is just a matter of time before it is in Florida. The CDC reported the spread in its latest travel alert in April of this year. You can see what they have to say here.

So what does this have to do with sailing? Plenty, if you are going to charter or you are cruising the area. Heed the CDC warnings to protect yourself.

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post #2 of 13 Old 04-22-2014
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Re: Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean

Chikungunya is indeed spreading through the Antilles, but it is generally nothing more than an inconvenience for a healthy adult. Certainly not pleasant, like Dengue, it is rarely fatal; no need to panic.
Notices are posted at every clearance office and as far as I have heard, no cruiser has contracted this disease, yet.
How hard is it to prevent this, and other mosquito born diseases? With the conscientious use mosquito repellant, you should be fine. Screens on the boat help, too. There is an excellent repellant in the BWI called ODOMOS. No deet and safe for toddlers.

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post #3 of 13 Old 04-22-2014
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Re: Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean

Qualifications: I've lived in the USVI for 12 years, have cruised throughout the entire chain, and both my ex-wife and I contracted Dengue...and I have no plans on moving. Dengue and Chikungunya suck, but you don't need to panic IMHO, I don't see many people avoiding travel to the east coast because of Lyme disease, you know? If mosquitos are around use repellant, get behind screens, and slap the bastards! BTW, people have contracted Dengue in Texas and South Florida, and Chikungunya is a huge problem in Asia. Happy sailing!
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post #4 of 13 Old 04-22-2014
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Re: Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean

No cruiser has been infected with Chikungunya as far as I have heard.

The mosquito that transmits it is the same variety as spreads dengue. It is active in the day time. Basically its gotta suck blood from an infected person and then fly over to you and suck your blood, each time it transmits a little blood from the previous donor.

The highest risk areas are those with stagnant pools of fresh water and lots of people who do not use insect repellant. With the high cost of insect repellant those people are the locals. Infection on a boat at anchor would be virtually inconceivable unless anchored right in the mud of a village. But when going to local markets during the day or other crowded places then the chance must be higher.

Prevention: use bug spray every time you go out! But most do anyway in the tropics.
I carry a teeny-weeny bottle in my day pack and have a squirt if I have forgotten.

As its a Public Health issue the governments have stepped up their spraying. However it will never be eradicated.

If you get Chikungunya you will not die. (Dengue can be fatal) but Chikungunya can affect older people, like us, for much longer than Dengue.


In conclusion: its been around for about 6 months but no cruiser I know has got it yet. The locals are not in a panic. So just relax and squirt some repellant.


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post #5 of 13 Old 04-22-2014
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Re: Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean

Re ODOMOS


It works exactly as well as DEET

Efficacy of Advanced Odomos repellent cream (N, N-diethyl-benzamide) against mosquito vectors

ODOMOS is as safe as DEET. Neither have adverse effects.

Odomos cream (12% N, N-diethyl-benzamide)
DEET cream (12% N, N-diethyl-3-methyl benzamide)

So theres only a bit of methyl between them

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post #6 of 13 Old 04-24-2014
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Re: Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean

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Originally Posted by capta View Post
Chikungunya is indeed spreading through the Antilles, but it is generally nothing more than an inconvenience for a healthy adult...
Interesting observation, but the two people I've met who have contracted Chikungunya might beg to differ. The lady in St. Martin who'd had it said that she couldn't get up for about 2 weeks and was still weak, 2 months after she'd had the fever. The gentleman I shared the hospital waiting room with in St. Barths had had a bout with the fever a month earlier and was back in the hospital because he still had nerve damage to his right hand and couldn't move it. I would rate both those cases as being more than inconvenient.


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post #7 of 13 Old 04-24-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean

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Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
The lady in St. Martin who'd had it said that she couldn't get up for about 2 weeks and was still weak, 2 months after she'd had the fever. The gentleman I shared the hospital waiting room with in St. Barths had had a bout with the fever a month earlier and was back in the hospital because he still had nerve damage to his right hand and couldn't move it. I would rate both those cases as being more than inconvenient.
From what I read about the fever, it didn't sound too inviting, and I thought it might be a little more than a previous reply suggested. Thanks, Zanshin, for your input. We'll be loading up on the bug spray when we head down to the BVI's, and using the furthest out mooring balls we can when settling in for the day.

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post #8 of 13 Old 04-24-2014
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Re: Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean

The two cases were mentioned to illustrate how bad the effects can be. I just recalled that one traveler (on TTOL) mentioned that she'd gotten Chikungunya (Chikungunya on TTOL ).

I am paranoid about contracting the fever, I don't use bug sprays and haven't deployed my fly-screens aboard (although I do anchor far out - but due to my draft and not to avoid flying things) and my only prophylactic measure is to wear long pants at dusk and dawn and sometimes wear long-sleeved shirts as well to make it tougher for mosquitos to bite me, at least the Malaria carrying ones and I might have to rethink considering the tiger mosquito vector. Dousing myself in DEET or other repellants isn't a viable option for me.
I would recommend using normal precautions and not being too worried about contracting the virus.
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post #9 of 13 Old 04-24-2014
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Re: Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean

Zanshin, were those people you spoke to cruisers? Or locals?


Hope you are well!

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Re: Dengue Fever Like Virus in the Caribbean

Mark - the two on St. Martin and St. Barths were locals, but the one on TTOL is a cruiser.


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