First cases of chikungunya fever reported in Manatee, Sarasota

Posted by MARC R. MASFERRER on June 26, 2014 

In this undated file photo provided by the USDA, an aedes aegypti mosquito is shown on human skin. ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Florida Department of Health in Manatee County and Sarasota County Thursday confirmed cases of chikungunya (\chik-en-gun-ye) fever in two individuals who recently traveled to the Dominican Republic.

It was not known whether the two people know each other, but health officials emphasized that no one has contracted the illness in the United States.

Here's the press release from the Manatee County Health Department:

Chikungunya is a disease spread by bites from infected mosquitoes. Statewide concern around the disease increased in May, when Florida health officials began to learn of cases occurring in residents across the state, following travel to Caribbean Islands.

There have been no reports of anyone acquiring chikungunya within the United States. However, there is the possibility that if a person is infected and bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito may later spread the infection locally by biting another person. The breed of mosquito known to transmit chikungunya is active both day and night.

"Avoiding mosquito bites is the key to preventing infection with chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases," said Dr. Jennifer Bencie, DOH-Manatee Administrator. "Floridians and visitors are encouraged to take precautionary measures to help reduce the chance of being bitten. Remember to drain standing water, cover all skin with repellant or clothing, and ensure open windows and doors have functioning screens."

DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.

* Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.

* Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.

* Empty and clean birdbaths and pet's water bowls at least once or twice a week.

* Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water.

* Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

COVER skin with clothing or repellent.

* Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long sleeves.

* Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.

* Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are effective.

COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out.

* Keep mosquitoes out of your house. Repair broken screens on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

People at increased risk for severe disease include older adults (65 years) and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

Symptoms of chikungunya include sudden onset of high fever (>102F), severe joint pain mainly in the arms and legs, headache, muscle pain, back pain and rash. Symptoms appear on average three to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Most patients feel better after a few days or weeks,however, some people may develop long-term effects.

If you experience symptoms of chikungunya fever, consult with your health care provider immediately and protect yourself against further mosquito bites. Avoiding mosquito bites while you are sick will help to protect others from getting infected.

For more information on chikungunya, visit the Florida Department of Health at http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases/chikungunya.html or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/.

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