Broward News

Palm Beach County Man Becomes Fourth in Florida to Contract Chikungunya

At least he won't have to deal with any other mosquitos for a while. That's the silver lining for one Florida man who has Palm Beach County officials scrambling to remove any and all bugs from his home. The reason he has professional fly swatters at his beck and call is this: He's become the fourth person in Florida to contract chikungunya, a virus that causes severe joint pain, fevers of greater than 102 degrees, headaches, and rashes that can last for years.

The 66-year-old man, whose name and exact location aren't being released for privacy reasons, joins a short list of people from Miami-Dade, Broward, and Hillsborough counties who have become ill. The virus came to the Americas only last year through the Caribbean. The latest case was contracted on the island Hispaniola with symptoms manifesting about a week later.

Palm Beach County is taking precautions to make sure chikungunya, which can be transferred only via mosquito bite, doesn't spread. "For these [single-person cases], we do have success with hand foggers," mosquito control analyst Gary Goode told the Palm Beach Post. "But you can't do the whole county with hand foggers -- we can't even do that with trucks; they don't penetrate these four- and five-acre lots."

If chik gets out, Goode and his team will make an aerial attack.

And it's important it doesn't spread: There's no vaccine to prevent it or medicine to treat it. And although chikungunya probably won't kill you unless you're an infant or an old person, it's said to be very painful.

It's also supposed to be tiring. Patients who have contracted chikungunya also suffer from arthritis, loss of energy, and depression, according to the Florida Department of Health.

There's practically an entire glossary of mosquito-borne illnesses that can affect Floridians. The Florida DOH also reminds people to watch out for: West Nile, two types of encephalitis, dengue fever, malaria, yellow fever, and rift valley fever.

If you choose to go outside, the DOH recommends draining all standing water around your home, wearing lots of clothes even though it's stupid-hot out, and using bug spray.

Send your story tips to the author, Allie Conti.

Follow Allie Conti on Twitter: @allie_conti

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Allie Conti was a fellow at Miami New Times and a staff writer for New Times Broward-Palm Beach, where her writing won awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists. She's now the senior staff writer at Vice and a contributor to the New York Times, New York Magazine, and the Atlantic.