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Over the past few weeks, we've been hearing about more and more people contracting the mosquito-borne illness known as chikungunya.

Now a Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher thinks he may have contracted the virus.

Joel Peralta says he hasn't been well since the All Star Break last week. That's when he was back home in the Dominican Republic, where the virus is more prevalent.

A spokesman for the Rays confirms Peralta is exhibiting flu-like symptoms, but more testing will be needed to determine if it is in fact chikungunya. There's no word on whether he will need to be placed on the disabled list.

The virus can cause joint pain and arthritis-like symptoms. It typically isn't deadly, but it can be extremely painful, with symptoms lasting for weeks.

See Also: Man survives chikungunya, says he "felt old"

So far, there have been 82 cases confirmed in Florida, including two that were contracted locally.

"To prevent chikungunya, it is vital that Floridians and visitors continue to avoid mosquito bites" said Dr. Jennifer Bencie, DOH-Manatee Administrator.

How do you avoid mosquitoes in Florida? Here are some tips:

  • Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.
  • Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
  • Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren't being used.
  • Empty and clean birdbaths and pet's water bowls at least once or twice a week.
  • Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don't accumulate water.
  • Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated.
  • Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
  • COVER skin with clothing or repellent.
  • Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeves.
  • Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
  • Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are effective.
  • COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Keep mosquitoes out of your house. Repair broken screens on windows, doors,
  • porches, and patios.

For more information about chikungunya, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's information page at http://www.cdc.gov/chikungunya/.

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