New diseases are getting closer to our region

New diseases are getting closer to our region

According to Tennessee Regional Health Department there are new diseases that are getting closer to our region this summer.

A warning for those of you going away on vacation you could be bringing back something more than souvenirs.

The Centers for Disease Control is getting the word out on symptoms associated with mosquito-transmitted disease called Chikungunya, "Fever and joint pain and you can also have a rash and your eyes can become red," says David Kirschkel.

Medical Director of Northeast Tennessee Regional Health Department, David Kirschke says his office has seen several cases involving people who traveled to the Caribbean for a mission trip, "The problem is there is no specific treatment and there is also no vaccine against it so the main thing is preventing getting it in the first place."

Kirschke recommends that people infected need to stay indoors, "If you have Chickengunya avoid mosquitoes for one week because mosquitoes can bite you then bite another person and transmit the disease."

He suggests wearing mosquito repellant with deet in it and long sleeve shirts and pants if possible to lessen the likelihood of transmitting the disease.

Another disease making its way to our area is the Southern Tick Associated Rash Illness and it affects more than people.

Veterinarian Kate Zimmerman says it's transmitted by ticks and your animals are also at risk, "They end up looking like they have the Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Joint aches, fever, spots all over them, but it's not caused by that organism we don't even know what organism causes it."

We also learned that another tick-transmitted disease to be aware of is Babesia. It acts like Malaria and can be difficult to cure.

Zimmerman says beware, your pets can help spread the disease, "The dogs and the cats go outside ticks can hop on these animals and move right into your house. The tick will finish one blood meal on your pet, drop off in the environment, lay hundreds of thousands of eggs in your house."

We found out ticks can carry more than one virus.

Zimmerman says that's why it's important for you to check for ticks on yourself and your pets, "You want to make sure you don't have them up in your hair line or along your waist line or where your clothes touch."

Experts say being proactive is a big key to prevention.

If you are diagnosed with any of these diseases the health department asks that you report it to them that way they have up to date information about the number of cases reported in our region.

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