Florida Chikungunya cases double in two weeks

JACKSONVILLE, FL (FirstCoastNews.com) --- Florida officials are keeping a close eye on a new mosquito-borne virus that's hitting the United States. The disease is called Chikungunya or Chik-V.

According to the Duval County Health Department, the number of cases has nearly doubled in the last two weeks in Florida, alone. As of June 8th, the number of cases stood at 18. However, as of June 14th, the number of reported cases came in at 42. In Jacksonville, there are two reported cases.

Marah Clark, an entomologist with the City of Jacksonville Mosquito Control Division says there are 47 mosquito breeds in Duval County. Two of those breeds cause Chik-V.

"The Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito [are carriers]." said Clark.

Chikungunya is a debilitating mosquito-borne virus that can be transferred frommosquitoes to humans and back to mosquitoes. According to officials the outbreak is coming from the Caribbean, as travels slowly bring the illness back to the U.S. However, there is no cure and no treatment. According to officials, protection is the only prevention.

"The majority of people who get it will have to deal with long-term problems and that's our biggest concern," said Clark. "The virus is short-lived but you could live with joint issues for a very long time."

Clark says the disease is not usually fatal. However, those with weak immune systems are at the greatest risk.

"These mosquitoes are local mosquitoes," said Clark. "They are in your backyard, and the best thing to do is follow guidelines with the CDC."

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the best way to avoid any mosquito bite is:

1. Use spray when you go outdoors, especially in wooded areas. It is important to note that mosquitoes carrying Chik-V are primarily out during the daylight.

2. Wear long clothing

3. When you travel, you should pack protection

4. Get rid of standing water you may have around your home

According to the CDC, mosquitoes breed in still water. A small bottle-cap filled with water can be used a breeding ground, as can rain gutters, pots, bowls, toys and pools.



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