So it begins. All summer, scientists and health officials have been biting their nails over a rare mosquito-borne virus that has begun showing up stateside from the Caribbean. So far, the 80 or so cases diagnosed of chikungunya have been found in people who were traveling abroad.
Now, it looks like our very own red, white, and blue bloodsuckers are also carrying. The health department confirmed yesterday that the first two locally acquired cases of chikungunya have been reported -- right here in South Florida.
Luckily, the virus is rarely fatal, just scary as all hell. It first popped out of Africa, and the latest outbreak began cooking in December 2013. Among the more than 5,000 cases identified across 17 countries by the Pan American Health Organization, there have been only 21 deaths, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The symptoms include extremely high fevers and joint pain in the hands and feet. Old folks, little kids, and people with compromised immune systems are the most likely to take it hard.
Transmission happens when a bug bites an infected person, then darts over for another meal on somebody else. Person-to-person infection isn't possible, so you don't have to run around avoiding other people. Just firebomb your body with Off.
The first local case hit a Miami-Dade patient back in early June, according to the Post. The second, a Palm Beach County man, was hospitalized in early July but is back home now. "We are pleased to report that each patient is doing well," Dr. Celeste Philip, Florida's deputy secretary for health, told the Post.
So what's the best way to stay safe? As we mentioned, stock up on Off and other bug repellants. Officials are also telling folks to get rid of any standing water that might be a party place for mosquitoes. This isn't the only scary virus that's traveling on the backs of biting critters. Dengue fever cases have also been reported throughout the region. Maybe you should just not leave the house for a while. Netflix-binge your way through the summer. You've got a valid excuse.
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