Health officials confirm case of Chikungunya fever in Brevard County

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. - The Florida Department of Health said an imported case of chikungunya fever, a disease spread by bites from infected mosquitoes, has been reported in Brevard County.

[READ: Chikungunya fact sheet]

Health officials said the case was "imported" meaning it is travel associated. No other details on the victim in Central Florida were immediately available.

"When the sun hits sundown we're out," said Rick Kalsi while hanging outside near Lake Baldwin Friday evening.

Kalsi and his wife always carry bug spray with them and said they'll use it more often now after hearing about chikungunya.

"I will probably put a little more protection on her (their daughter). Kids are more susceptible to the bug bites in general. Like, when she gets a bug bite, it turns into a huge hive and becomes a scar for like a few weeks," said Angie Kalsi.

Chikungunya causes high fever, severe joint pain and although it doesn't usually kill people, it can cause partial paralysis. The symptoms appear on average 3 to 7 days after being bit by an infected mosquito.

The person in Brevard County was infected somewhere else but experts are concerned that mosquitoes in Central Florida can pick up the disease by biting him. The Health Department said 18 people in Florida have been infected. All of those people traveled to the Caribbean or to South America and could've been infected there.

"Avoiding mosquito bites is the key to preventing infection with chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases," said Heidar Heshmati, Director, DOH-Brevard in a release. "Floridians and visitors are encouraged to take precautionary measures to help reduce the chance of being bitten. Remember to drain and cover."

If a person is infected and bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito may later spread the infection by biting another person, officials said. If you experience symptoms of chikungunya fever, see a doctor immediately and protect yourself from more mosquito bites.

For more information on chikungunya, visit the Florida Department of Health or the Center for Disease Control.

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