Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Chikungunya virus spreads locally in Florida for first time

The first cases of locally acquired chikungunya fever in the United States were reported Thursday in Florida: one in Miami-Dade County and the other in Palm Beach County, the Florida Department of Health announced.

Chikungunya is a disease spread by bites from infected mosquitoes. If a person is infected and bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito could later spread the infection by biting another person. Chikungunya is not contagious from person to person, is typically not life-threatening and will likely resolve on its own, state officials said.

Though 81 cases of the virus had been reported in Florida even before Thursday, including a new case confirmed in Pinellas County on Tuesday, none of them was contracted in the U.S. The mosquito-borne disease is widespread in the Caribbean, and the latest case in Pinellas County was an 81-year-old woman who returned from the region after traveling there in June and early July.

Experts had expected the disease to make its way to the United States.

"The department has been conducting statewide monitoring for signs of any locally acquired cases of chikungunya." said Dr. Anna Likos, state epidemiologist. "We encourage everyone to take precautions against mosquitoes to prevent chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases by draining standing water, covering your skin with clothing and repellent, and covering doors and windows with screens."

The virus is spread mostly by two breeds of mosquito, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. They bite in the daytime and are also famous for transmitting the dengue virus. Both species live in Florida.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control said in a statement that it is working with Florida health officials to identify additional cases.

CDC officials think chikungunya will behave like dengue virus in the United States, where imported cases have resulted in sporadic local transmission but have not caused widespread outbreaks. None of the more than 200 imported chikungunya cases between 2006 and 2013 has triggered a local outbreak. However, more chikungunya-infected travelers coming into the United States increases the likelihood that local transmission will occur.

Symptoms include high fever and joint pain. In rare cases, particularly in the very old or very young, or those with weakened immune systems, the symptoms can be prolonged and joint pain can be severe. There have been a few deaths associated with the disease, but the victims had serious underlying health issues.

There is no treatment beyond ibuprofen and fluids, but in healthy sufferers, the symptoms are short-lived.

Chikungunya virus spreads locally in Florida for first time 07/17/14 [Last modified: Friday, July 18, 2014 9:24am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Everyone on Twitter is making this same eclipse joke

    Blogs

    Today's total solar eclipse is, of course, a social media event as much as it is a natural phenomenon. Twitter even rolled out an #eclipse hashtag that automatically adds an eclipse emoji.

    The solar eclipse is inspiring Twitter humor.
  2. Live video: See how the solar eclipse is unfolding across the country

    Space

    Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and disposable protective glasses Monday as the moon blotted out the midday sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century.

    The moon is seen as it starts passing in front of the sun during a solar eclipse from Ross Lake, Northern Cascades National Park, in Washington on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. [Bill Ingalls | NASA via AP]
  3. Photo gallery: First images of the total solar eclipse

    Space

    Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and disposable protective glasses Monday as the moon blotted out the midday sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century.

    The moon covers the sun during a total eclipse Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, near Redmond, Ore.  [Ted S. Warren | Associated Press]
  4. FBI warns of spreading W-2 email theft scheme

    Personal Finance

    The IRS is warning businesses about a sharp increase in email phishing scams involving employees' W-2 forms — scams that can put staffers' Social Security numbers and other critical information in the hands of thieves.

    The IRS is warning businesses about a sharp increase in email phishing scams involving employees' W-2 forms.
[McClatchy DC/TNS file photo]
  5. Barcelona fugitive shot dead outside city wearing bomb belt

    World

    SUBIRATS, Spain — A man thought to be the driver in the Barcelona van attack was shot dead by Spanish police Monday after authorities announced he also was suspected of killing the owner of a hijacked getaway car. The fugitive was wearing a bomb belt, authorities said.

    Police bomb squad officers work by a road near Subirats, Spain, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. A police operation was underway Monday in an area west of Barcelona, and a Spanish newspaper reports that the fugitive in the city's van attack has been captured. Regional police said officers shot a man wearing a possible explosives belt in Subirats, a small town 45 kilometers (28 miles) west of Barcelona. [Associated Press]