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The Mosquito-Borne Tropical Disease Chikungunya Makes Its First Appearance in North Florida

Tiger mosquitos are distinctive with their black and white coloration, and bite during the day. Photograph by: J. L. Castner, University of Florida

Tiger mosquitos are distinctive with their black and white coloration, and bite during the day. Photograph by: J. L. Castner, University of Florida

The first occurrence of the mosquito-borne tropical disease chikungunya has occurred in north Florida. Two cases have been reported, in Leon County, from residents who recently visited Haiti.

This virus originated in sub-Saharan Africa and the southeastern quarter of Asia including India, Pakistan, Indo-China and most of China. The first reported case in the Caribbean occurred in 2013.

The Chikungunya virus is spread by two mosquito species, Aedes aegypti (also known as the yellow fever mosquito) and Aedes albopictus (also known as the tiger mosquito). Both are non-natives which are currently found in Florida, but the tiger mosquito is more common in north Florida.

Both mosquitos have distinctive black and white stripes across their bodies and are actively biting during the daylight hours. Each has been introduced into Florida during recent decades.

Disease symptoms include sudden high fever, severe joint pain in the hands and feet, joint swelling and back pain. Cases are usually not fatal, but the elderly and infants commonly experience the most severe cases.

Over 40 other cases of chikungunya have been reported in central and south Florida. In each case, the person who contracted the disease had traveled in areas known have mosquito populations carrying the disease.

To date no mosquitos in Florida have tested positive for chikungunya.

 For more information go to: Chikungunya



Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director. He began his work in the Northwest Extension District as the Sustainable Agriculture and Extension Technology Agent in Leon County on August 25, 2006. His career in agriculture extends back over thirty five years and includes work in business, government and academic positions. Prior to working with the Extension Service, he spent 16 years with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in the Division of Marketing and Development. He worked in four of the division’s six bureaus. He has also managed farm supply cooperatives in Alabama and Virginia with annual sales over four million dollars, worked for an international grain company, and was a research associate for Auburn University’s Agricultural Economics Department. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. He is the author of over 500 publications and has written professionally for print, electronic and broadcast media.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://okaloosa.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/06/21/the-mosquito-borne-tropical-disease-chikungunya-makes-its-first-appearance-in-north-florida/