Martin County residents and visitors urged to take precautions against chikungunya fever

  Chikungunya fever is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. (Source: Nature World News) 

 

The Florida Department of Health in Martin County and Martin County Mosquito Control advises residents and visitors to be aware of chikungunya fever, a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes.

Chikungunya fever has occurred in Africa, Asia, the Western Pacific and most recently in the Caribbean. The Florida Department of Health has received three reports of imported cases of chikungunya fever to Florida from travelers who recently traveled to the Caribbean. One case is a 30 year old woman in Miami-Dade County, one case is a 29 year old woman from Broward County, and the other is a 44 year old woman in Hillsborough County.

Symptoms of chikungunya usually begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and can include fever and severe joint pains often in hands and feet. Other symptoms can include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash. Chikungunya fever does not often result in death, but some individuals may experience persistent joint pain.

There is currently no vaccine or medication to prevent chikungunya fever. If you feel that you may have contracted chikungunya, contact your health care provider. People at increased risk for severe disease include newborns exposed during delivery, older adults (≥65 years), and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. A person infected with chikungunya should stay indoors as much as possible until symptoms subside to prevent further transmission.

The Florida Department of Health and Martin County Mosquito Control advise the public to remain diligent in their personal mosquito protection efforts.

These include remembering to “Drain and Cover.”

DRAIN standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying.

Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.

Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.

Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week.

Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.

Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.

COVER skin with clothing or repellent

CLOTHING – Wear shoes, socks, and long pants and long-sleeves. This type of protection may be necessary for people who must work in areas where mosquitoes are present.

REPELLENT – Apply mosquito repellent to bare skin and clothing.

Always use repellents according to the label. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and IR3535 are effective.

Use mosquito netting to protect children younger than 2 months old.

COVER doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of your house

Repair broken screening on windows, doors, porches, and patios.

Tips on Repellent Use

Always read label directions carefully for the approved usage before you apply a repellent. Some repellents are not suitable for children.

Products with concentrations of up to 30 percent DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) are generally recommended. Other US Environmental Protection Agency-approved repellents contain Picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535. These products are generally available at local pharmacies. Look for active ingredients to be listed on the product label.

Apply insect repellent to exposed skin, or onto clothing, but not under clothing.

In protecting children, read label instructions to be sure the repellent is age-appropriate. According to the CDC, mosquito repellents containing oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under the age of three years. DEET is not recommended on children younger than two months old.

Avoid applying repellents to the hands of children. Adults should apply repellent first to their own hands and then transfer it to the child’s skin and clothing.

If additional protection is necessary, apply a permethrin repellent directly to your clothing. Again, always follow the manufacturer’s directions.

For more information on what repellent is right for you, consider using the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) search tool to help you choose skin-applied repellent products: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/insect/#searchform

DOH continues to conduct statewide surveillance for mosquito borne illnesses, including West Nile virus infections, Eastern equine encephalitis, St. Louis encephalitis, malaria, and dengue fever.

For more information on mosquito-borne illnesses, visit the Florida Department of Health in Martin County or http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/arboviral/index.html.

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