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First US-Acquired Chikungunya Cases Reported in Florida

Thu, 17 Jul 2014 22:13:26 +0000

iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Florida officials confirmed the first locally acquired cases of mosquito-borne virus chikungunya Thursday, seven months after the virus first arrived in the United States from the Caribbean and Central America.

The cases came out of Miami Dade County and Palm Beach County, with one man saying he had not traveled outside of the country recently. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working closely with Florida's Department of Health to investigate how patients acquired the virus.

“The arrival of chikungunya virus, first in the tropical Americas and now in the United States, underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens,” said Roger Nasci, chief of CDC’s Arboviral Diseases Branch. “This emphasizes the importance of CDC’s health security initiatives designed to maintain effective surveillance networks, diagnostic laboratories and mosquito control programs both in the United States and around the world.”

While the United States has seen 28 "imported" cases of chikungunya per year since 2006, the new incidents mark the first time that mosquitoes have spread the virus within the country.

The disease is transmitted by infected Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, and is not contagious from person to person. The virus is not life-threatening and "will likely resolve on its own," according to officials.

The Department of Health will continue statewide monitoring for local cases.

Symptoms include fever, joint pain, headaches, swelling, or rash. Officials are advising residents protect themselves with insect repellent, window and door screens, and long-sleeved clothing. For more information on chikungunya, visit the CDC website.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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