Hillsborough County, Florida – The mosquito illness chikungunya has infected more than 100,000 people worldwide. Until last week, none of those cases included anyone bitten in the United States.
But now the virus has made its way to South Florida and infected two people there. Tampa Bay is working to make sure this area doesn't attract chikungunya.
Although it's not a deadly disease, its symptoms of fever and joint pain can be pretty severe, especially if they go untreated. Steve Huard, spokesperson from Florida Health explained that prevention is key.
"As long as people are on top of it, it really shouldn't become a problem," said Huard.
Huard recommends wearing a bug spray that contains DEET. If you are out working in the garden, wear pants and long sleeves to cover your skin.
One of the biggest ways to prevent mosquitoes from breeding is "drain and cover," said Huard. Eliminate any freestanding water you have outside and around your home. In Florida, mosquitoes are active all day, not just at dusk and dawn.
A helicopter will spray mosquito repellent throughout Hillsborough County in South Tampa Wednesday night to keep mosquitos under control, including carriers of chickungunya. WTSP
"Daytime biters, they're the little ones that you see on your garden. If you've got a lush garden, those are the little ones that you'll see flying around when you're walking through the grass and those are the ones that will come up and get you," said Huard.
Hillsborough County is also doing its part to help keep Tampa free of chikungunya.
"Anytime the population is high -- we will spray," said Dr. Carlos Fernandes of Hillsborough County Mosquito and Aquatic Weed Control.
A helicopter will spray a mosquito chemical spray in South Tampa Wednesday night to keep mosquitoes under control, including potential carriers of chikungunya. Trucks will also spray throughout other parts of Hillsborough County.
"Reduce the number of mosquitoes, reduce the risk of disease," said Fernandes.
Fernandes went on to say that the mosquito chemical spray used meets EPA standards, but does recommend staying indoors if you live in the area being sprayed from 8-10 p.m. Wednesday.
If you have a mosquito problem in your neighborhood contact Hillsborough County Mosquito Control.