The Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County received confirmation July 2 of its first chikungunya case in a Pinellas resident who traveled to the Caribbean in June.
The mosquito-borne viral infection is characterized by a high fever, severe chronic joint pain and fatigue. There have been 52 cases in Florida in 2014, including three in Hillsborough and one in Pasco.
None of the cases were acquired locally and there have been no reports of anyone acquiring the disease within the United States.
Infected persons are advised to avoid mosquito bites while they're ill to prevent transmission to someone else. Chikungunya is carried by mosquitoes and not by person-to-person contact. There is no vaccine to prevent, or medicine to treat, chikungunya virus infection.
Persons traveling to areas in the Caribbean can protect themselves by preventing mosquito bites. Steps would include using insect repellent and staying in places with air conditioning or screens on windows and doors.
Infants, older adults and those with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or heart disease are at risk for more severe forms of the disease. The incubation period can range from one to 12 days after a bite from an infected mosquito.
To protect yourself from mosquitoes, follow the Drain and Cover formula. Drain standing water around your home where mosquitoes can breed. Cover your arms and legs when outdoors and use mosquito repellent. Maintain your home to fix holes in screens where mosquitoes can enter. Cover infant cribs and carriers in mosquito netting to provide more protection for babies.
For information about chikungunya, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's information page at www.cdc.gov/chikungunya.