1st case of mosquito-borne disease in Polk

Winter Haven, Florida -- A mosquito-borne illness affecting hundreds of thousands of people in the Caribbean has made its way to Florida.

So far, there have been three cases of chikungunya in Hillsborough County and one in Pasco.

On Tuesday, Polk County also confirmed its first case of the disease. The infected victim, who lives in Poinciana, had recently traveled to the Caribbean. Officials have not released the person's gender or age.

"The name comes from Swahili, for 'walking bent over,'" says Dr. Daniela Chiriboga with the Polk County Health Department. "That gives you an idea how you feel."

Symptoms include fever, severe joint pain, headaches.

"Wear long sleeves, repellent, long pants," Dr. Chiriboga advises.

There have been 48 confirmed cases of chikungunya in Florida, but all of them have been imported. The disease is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It has been documented in 40 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

There is no vaccine or medication to prevent the disease, but it rarely kills those infected.

"Right now, there is an outbreak in all of the Caribbean islands," says Dr. Chiriboga.

It's a warning to those getting ready to travel that they should protect themselves.

To keep mosquitoes and other bugs away from you and your family, Consumer Reports recommends these top five repellents:

  1. Off Deep Woods Sportsmen 2
  2. Cutter Backwoods Unscented
  3. OFF Family Care Smooth and Dry
  4. 3-M Ultra-thon Insect Repellant 8
  5. Natrapel 8-hour

The first four have various levels of DEET and scored 98 out of 100, and "Off Deep Woods Sportsmen two" was the cheapest per ounce. All of them worked for at least seven hours.


People at increased risk for severe disease include newborns, senior adults, and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, etc.

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.

Complications are more common in infants younger than a year old; those older than 65; and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension.

If you experience symptoms of chikungunya fever, consult with your health care provider immediately and protect yourself against further mosquito bites.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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