Saturday, Nov 22, 2014
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County man contracts chikungunya

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A Hernando County man who contracted the chikungunya virus has recovered, county health officials say.

The man apparently was bitten by a mosquito carrying the virus while visiting the Dominican Republic in June, said Ann-Gayl Ellis, spokeswoman for the county Health Department.

He began showing symptoms of the virus nine to 10 days after arriving on the island. The Hernando man received medical care in the Dominican Republic and was told to follow up with doctors when arriving back in the United States.

“The resident’s blood work, symptoms, the timeline of illness and travel to the Dominican Republic all indicate this was a probable case of chikungunya,” Ellis said.

He now is considered recovered but health officials will follow up to ensure there is no recurrence.

County health officials canvassed the immediate area where the man lives, eliminated potential breeding spots and sprayed for mosquitoes.

“There does not appear to be any additional concerns at this time,” said Ellis, who added the man’s identity was being withheld to comply with confidentiality laws.

Ellis advises people to check their properties for standing water and to make sure mosquitoes do not have a place to breed and possibly bite someone.

Reports of people getting bitten by mosquitoes carrying the chikungunya virus have been growing throughout Florida but only after people have returned from areas outside the United States, especially the Caribbean.

There is no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya fever.

The virus became well-publicized after Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta came down with it while visiting the Dominican Republic during last month’s Major League Baseball All-Star break. Peralta came off the league’s disabled list last week.

Sandra Fisher, Hernando’s mosquito control director, said conditions are not favorable in the county for the aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the chikungunya virus.

“That is why my concern is not as great,” Fisher said.

However, the Asian tiger mosquito is present in Hernando and that is a potential vector for the chikungunya, she said.

Chikungunya is not contagious from person to person, typically is not life-threatening and likely will resolve on its own, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Symptoms of chikungunya include sudden onset of high fever, 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.

Florida health officials said most patients feel better after a few days or weeks, although some people develop long-term effects. Complications are most common in infants, people older than 65 and people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or hypertension.

“The Department has been conducting statewide monitoring for signs of any locally acquired cases of chikungunya,” stated Anna Likos, state epidemiologist, in a news release. “We encourage everyone to take precautions against mosquitoes to prevent chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases by draining standing water, covering your skin with clothing and repellent and covering doors and windows with screens.”

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