Two cases of the mosquito-borne virus chikungunya have been reported in Leon County, Florida. Both patients had recently travelled to Haiti and had apparently carried the virus back with them.
Leon County Health Officer Claudia Blackburn told USA Today that the public is not at risk of getting the virus as the cases didn’t spread locally.
“People don’t need to worry about getting this disease here in Leon County,” she told the paper.
She added that people can take precaution by covering up, using insect repellant, covering their windows, making sure their screens are intact and draining standing water around their homes.
Chikungunya virus is spread by two mosquito species: Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, both of which are found in Florida.
According to the Duval County Health Department, the number of reported cases has nearly doubled in the last two weeks in Florida, but the disease has not yet been detected in the local mosquito population.
As of June 8th, 2014, the number of cases was 18. But as of June 14th, the number of reported cases jumped to 42.
Chikungunya is derived from an African word that loosely translates as “contorted with pain”. While the virus is rarely fatal, those who have contracted it have described extreme bouts of pain and it being a “miserable experience” per Fox News.
The symptoms of the virus include a combination of a terrible flu and a sudden case of arthritis, with severe headaches, a high fever and intense muscle and joint pain.
Cuban health authorities said on Wednesday that they had six cases of chikungunya fever reported, caused by a debilitating, mosquito-borne virus that is suspected of infecting tens of thousands across the Caribbean since its arrival to the region last year.
The virus was first detected in the Caribbean in December, though it has long been present in Asia and Africa.