Chikungunya: What is it and What is the Risk is in Northeast Florida?

Mosquito-borne illnesses are always a topic of conversation in Florida this time of year, as we are in the height of the mosquito season. Chikungunya is a disease that can’t be left out of that conversation. In 2014, there was an outbreak of Chikungunya in the Americas (North, South, and Central) and the first case was confirmed in Florida. Since then 3,800 cases have been discovered in Florida although they were all travel-related. Still, these cases show the possible future risk of contracting Chikungunya in Florida.

A New Strain of Mosquito-Borne Chikungunya

Barry Alto, associate professor of entomology at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, is studying an Asian strain of chikungunya that is present in the Americas, epidemic in Brazil, and a possible threat to Florida. They are studying the two mosquitoes that carry the disease, the yellow fever mosquito or Aedes aegypti and the Asian tiger mosquito or Aedes albopictus, in both Brazil and Florida. The goal is to learn more about the mosquitoes’ ability to pass on Chikungunya as well as the effects geographical location might have. This will be important information to have in the event of an outbreak here in Florida.

Symptoms of Chikungunya

Chikungunya is similar to other mosquito-borne illnesses in that for most people it is mild. The symptoms can include fever, rash, headache, and joint pain. In a small percentage of cases, however, severe chronic muscular and joint pain can arise. Sometimes the symptoms last for months or even years and are very similar to those of rheumatoid arthritis. There is no treatment or vaccine for Chikungunya, treatment of symptoms is the only intervention available.

It is the abundance of Asian Tiger mosquitoes in Florida that makes the understanding of the diseases they can carry so important. Add the CDC’s recent report of growing instances of mosquito-borne illness and the introduction of new types of disease over the last sixteen years and you realize how important keeping informed and protected really is.

At Mosquito Squad of Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra we hope to make all aspects of that easier for you. First by simply sharing as much information about the risks in our area as we can. Second by making protection from mosquitoes simple and true when you are at home. No one wants to spend their time at home thinking about the risk of disease. Our barrier treatment will eliminate 90% of mosquitoes in your living spaces as well as the need for concern. Won’t you let us do that for you? Call us today and let’s talk about exactly how we can best help you. 

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