Regarding the Chikungunya virus in the USVI…

We have had a few people contact us about their vacation reservations, in light of the mosquito-borne illness called chikungunya that has been making headlines. The way we all know the media can sensationalize things, you would think we had a major health crisis in the islands! While it is important to be cognizant of these advisories, here in the US Virgin Islands this virus is still generally a mild illness that is easily preventable, and here at Longford Hideaway and ARTfarm where we live and work we’ve had ZERO cases!

We’d like to share a summary of the information from the US Federal and Territorial Health Departments along with links to the health advisories, for anyone concerned about chikungunya while visiting St. Croix.

According to the US Center for Disease Control (CDC), chikungunya is a virus that, in otherwise healthy people, causes a mild-to-uncomfortable flu-like illness that starts 3-7 days after receiving a bite from an infected “indoor” type mosquito, and lasts about a week with symptoms such as fever and joint pain. It is NOT known to be fatal or permanently harmful, and usually confers future immunity on most people who contract it.

That said, the US Virgin Islands Department of Health has put out an advisory regarding cases of chikungunya virus reported in the US Virgin Islands. However, since this advisory was published, the VI Daily News has reported that up to three possible cases have been reported on St. Thomas.

Because chikungunya has been reported in the mainland U.S., we figure that we are no likelier than any other warm place in the world that is visited by tourists-who-fly-on-planes, to have an outbreak. It’s been nice and breezy at Longford, and that sends the little guys packing!

Our rentals at Longford are outfitted with screens on all windows and doors, and ceiling fans in all the rooms. If needed, we can supply our (adult) guests with a mosquito-killing battery-powered “Jolt” tennis racket. It is entertaining, satisfying and effective. Snap, crackle, POP!

After doing a little research, we don’t recommend the bug zapper UV type lights, as  studies at Iowa State University have shown they are ineffective at attracting mosquitoes and even harmful – they don’t attract many mosquitoes, but can spread bacteria and harm the ecosystem by splattering a great number of the bugs that prey on mosquitoes. The ARTfarm depends heavily on beneficial predatory insects to organically control crop-damaging pests, without the use of harmful chemicals! For mosquito control in the farm water reservoirs, we keep a population of mosquito larvae-eating “mosquito fish”.

Here is a link to some of our favorite anti-mosquito spray. We love this stuff because it is preventative, herbal, smells good, works well for us, and is soothing to put on if you forget to apply it and do get a bite. Another effective and less expensive bug repellant we’ve used is coconut oil mixed with vanilla extract.

If you are having any doubts about visiting the Caribbean due to these health advisories, we’d gently remind our guests of the health perils of not getting a relaxing vacation with some vitamin D! And suggest you plan your adventure, and trust that you will have a wonderful time. We live and work here year-round on the property, and we spend lots of time outdoors! Simply keeping your body healthy with fresh chemical-free fruits and vegetables, daily exercise, plenty of water and sufficient sleep will go a long way toward maximizing your immune system’s ability to minimize any pathogens it may encounter during travel. Take the usual precautions you would already take against mosquito bites, and you’ll be just fine!

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