After a couple of weeks of relative quiet, chikungunya is back on the radar of local health officials. This week, authorities in Palm Beach announced that two more people had contracted the fever in the area, bringing the local total of Palm Beachers affected to four. The latest victims pretty much make the county ground zero for Florida's current outbreak.
According to the Palm Beach Post, a 35-year-old woman and a 43-year-old man were the latest individuals to come down with the extremely painful but ultimately non-life-threatening virus. Originally from African and Asia, the virus has spread over the years through the Caribbean. This year marks the virus' first landfall in the continental U.S.
These victims follow two more that were reported earlier in the summer. In early August, after the second case was diagnosed, Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, told New Times her organization was now working under the assumption that chikungunya was in the local mosquito population.
"We hope it won't get to the point where it takes hold in the community and we see it all the time," she told us at the time.
In South Florida, the tally of chikungunya cases stands at six. Besides the four Palm Beach cases, one was discovered in Miami-Dade, another in St. Lucie County. Unfortunately, there's not a lot you can do to keep yourself safe from the virus, other than cover up and wear your bug spray. Researchers, however, have made some significant progress on a possible vaccine.
The symptoms include high fever and extreme joint pain. So far, all of the individuals who have contracted the virus have recovered.