Several mosquito borne illnesses have been reported in Florida in recent weeks, and the Florida Department of Health is warning residents to take precaution.
According to a recent report by the Department of Health, cases of chikungunya fever, dengue, and malaria are being reported in the state – including right here in Tampa Bay.
Twenty-four cases of dengue were reported state-wide, 18 cases of chikungunya were reported, and 14 cases of malaria were reported, according to the latest disease report.
The viral mosquito borne diseases have made their way from Africa, Asia and beyond to the Caribbean and South America, which is where many residents are picking it up and bringing it home to Florida, the report states.
“With a large number of people traveling to and from the Caribbean in Florida we have been monitoring for possible imported cases,” said Dr. Carina Blackmore, State Public Health Veterinarian and Deputy State Epidemiologist. “We encourage all Floridians to practice the drain and cover method to minimize mosquito exposure.”
Mosquitos carry these various diseases, bites humans, which transmits the disease.
According to the report, three cases of chikungunya were reported Hillsborough County, and one in Pasco County.
Symptoms of chikungunya usually begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and can include fever and severe joint pains, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash. There is currently no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya fever.
According to the DOH report, three cases of dengue were reported in Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County. Two cases of malaria were reported in Hillsborough and one in Pasco County.
The dengue virus was eliminated from the United States several decades ago and until 2009, there were no reports of dengue acquired in Florida since 1934. There is currently no vaccine for dengue, either.
In all cases, the person infected has travel history to the Carribbean or South America at least two weeks prior to onset.
The DOH says to minimize exposure to mosquitoes, practice the drain and cover method. See above for 8 tips on how to prevent mosquitoes.
The public is urged to drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected and discard any items that may collect water. Clean bird baths and pet water bowls twice a week.
If you must be outside when mosquitoes are active, cover up. Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and long sleeves. You may also apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.
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