First cases of potentially deadly mosquito-borne virus confirmed to have been contracted in Florida

Officials are stepping up the spraying of mosquito-prone areas to reduce their populations

Florida authorities have confirmed the first two cases of a painful mosquito-borne disease contracted in the United States.

State health officials confirmed a Miami-Dade County female and a male in Palm Beach County have become the first two people to contract chikungya in the United States.

Dozens of infections have previously been reported in Florida alone, according to the Tampa Bay Times, but these are the first two to have been contracted in the States.

The Miami-Dade woman, 41, started complaining of symptoms June 10, according to the Miami Herald, and the 50-year-old male from Palm Beach County first reported his symptoms on July 1. Neither had travelled outside the country, sources told the Herald.

The disease is rarely fatal, and is often more of a discomfort. It is transmitted when a mosquito bites an infected person and then bites an uninfected person. It cannot be transmitted directly from human to human. Symptoms include fever, severe joint pain, swelling, rashes, and a feeling similar to arthritis for years, according to the Herald.

Previous cases of the disease were the result of travelers having been bitten by infected mosquitoes in the Caribbean, where it is highly-prevalent. It was only a matter of time until it made the jump to Florida.

“We expected this. Now the question is what are the cases to follow and can Mosquito Control itself do something to mitigate whatever those numbers might be?” Walter Tabachnick, director of the University of Florida’s Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory, told the Herald…

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It is all about which type of mosquitos can carry it. So far, it seems only warm climates can carry it.   From Wikipedia:

Chikungunya is generally spread through bites from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, but recent research by the Pasteur Institute in Paris has suggested chikungunya virus strains in the 2005-2006 Reunion Island outbreak incurred a mutation that facilitated transmission by Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).

A map of cases of dengue fever, which is carried by the same mosquito, Aedes aegypti. 

Both dengue and chikungunya are spreading across the world where there mosquitos can survive.

Globalization, increased travel and immigration have helped both of them spread.

Chikungunya is less common so far, and you can see a map of cases here.