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“Lazy mosquito” means that there are more women than men get chikungunya: scientists

A nurse takes the temperature of a patient is showing chikungunya-like fever symptoms of a health centre in Villa San Francisco, on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa October 2, 2014. Honduras’ Minister of Social Development, Lisandro Rosales said on Thursday there are already more than 400 people with symptoms of the painful mosquito-borne viral disease chikungunya in Villa San Francisco, and urged the residents to stay in the village, according to local media.

(REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera)

“Lazy mosquito” are the reason why women, who tend to have more time at home than men, are more likely to be infected by chikungunya, a painful mosquito-borne viral disease in the same way as Zika, researchers said on Monday.

Chikungunya, which in general is transmitted by the daytime-biting aedes aegypti mosquito, can lead to debilitating symptoms, including fever, headache and severe joint pain lasting months.

A new study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analyzed 2012 an outbreak of chikungunya in the Bangladeshi village Palpara, about 100 km (60 miles) from the capital Dhaka.

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The study said that more than a quarter of the cases were distributed within the same household, while half of the infections occurred in households less than 200 metres away, making small clusters of the disease.

Because the infected mosquitoes do not have to travel far, Bangladesh women, that two-thirds of the day at home, were 1.5 times more likely to develop chikungunya than men who are less than half of their time at home during the day.

“It seems that mosquitoes are very lazy,” Henrik Salje, the senior member of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said in a statement.

“They are biting someone in a household, and is infected with a virus and then hang around to bite someone else in the same house or in the neighborhood. The extra time that women spend in and around their house means that they have an increased risk of getting sick.”

The disease occurs in Africa and Asia, but cases have also been reported in Europe and America.

The study said, while there is no vaccine and little treatment is available for diseases such as chikungunya, Zika, dengue and yellow fever, which are all transmitted by the aedes aegypti, to know where outbreaks were likely to be clustered can help slow down.

“We have not a very good toolbox for the control of these diseases,” Salje said.

“But as soon as we do this research tells us how that can lead to a reaction and tailor our interventions – particularly in rural communities – who are most at risk, and those people are the ones who spend the most time in and around their homes.”

The researchers said that the coils are designed to repel mosquitoes not help stop chikungunya transmission in the Palpara region.

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