TAMPA — Three people in Florida, including one in Hillsborough County, have been infected with Chikungunya fever, a mosquito-borne virus, the Florida Department of Health reported Friday.
All three people recently travelled to the Caribbean.
The person infected in Hillsborough County is a 44-year-old woman. The two other cases in Florida involve a 29-year-old woman in Broward County, and a 30-year-old woman in Miami-Dade County, the health department said.
People infected with Chikungunya fever will suffer severe joint and muscle pain along with a fever and headache, said Steve Huard, a Hillsborough County Health Department spokesman. Symptoms usually present themselves three to seven days after the patient is bitten, he said.
The disease can impact people differently.
Some people might feel ill for a day or two, Huard said. Others might have a more severe reaction and suffer for a year or more, he said. Deaths are rare from the virus, he said.
There is no vaccine to prevent the virus. Doctors advise patients who are infected with Chikungunya fever to stay inside. They’ll also prescribe medication to manage pain and fever, Huard said.
Chikungunya fever is transmitted only from mosquitoes, not from humans to humans, Huard said.
“The warmer our climate is, the more mosquito issues we’re going to have,” Huard said.
He said Florida residents have to deal with the threat of a variety of mosquito-borne illnesses, including equine encephalitis. The best prevention, he said, is to follow the health department’s guidelines of “drain and cover’’ - make sure there is no standing water in the yard, and cover up with clothing or mosquito repellent when outside.
Huard also noted that while most people are accustomed to dealing with mosquitoes in the evening, the species of mosquito responsible for Chikungunya fever is most active in the daytime.
“We have mosquitoes with us all year long,’’ Huard said. “It is really, really important to take measures to protect your family.’’