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US : Florida reports three imported Chikungunya cases
US : Florida reports three imported Chikungunya cases

US : Florida reports three imported Chikungunya cases

The Florida Department of Health has issued a warning regarding chikungunya fever, a viral mosquito-borne disease that has made its way to the Caribbean from Africa, Asia and islands in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific.

The Department has confirmed three Florida cases of the fever from people who have recently traveled to the Caribbean. These include a 30-year-old woman in Miami-Dade County, a 29-year-old woman from Broward County, and a 44-year-old woman in Hillsborough County.

According to the World Health Organization, chikungunya literally means “to become contorted” because patients may be stooped over from the joint pain. Most get better in a week, but for others, the joint pain can last months.

Other possible symptoms include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, fatigue or a rash. The disease is not typically fatal, but for some, it can result in death. People at risk for more severe disease are newborns, adults over age 65, and people with pre-existing medical problems like diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.

There are no vaccines and no specific treatment for the infection.

The virus was first identified in 1952 in Tanzania. More recently, it’s spread to northern Italy in 2007, and only six months ago it made its way to the Americas, specifically St. Martin in the Virgin Islands.

The virus quickly spread to several other countries, including the Dominican Republic. Just last week, Haiti reported their first chikungunya case, and now say they’re up to more than 1,500 cases.

The CDC is keeping a close eye on the problem issuing travel advisories for many countries in the region.

Travelers have been reported to bring chikungunya in the United States in the past. A 2009 study tracked about 109 people who tested positive. So far, no cases have originated in the U.S. – something health officials will continue to track very closely.

The Hillsborough County case involves a 44-year-old woman who became infected during a trip to the Caribbean.

The South Florida cases were also contracted in the Caribbean.


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