Great news: Mosquito virus infesting Latin America spreads to Florida

Great news: Mosquito virus infesting Latin America spreads to Florida

A mosquito-borne virus that can cause debilitating joint pain lasting for years has spread to the continental U.S. after infecting hundreds of thousands of people in the Caribbean and Central America.

The virus is called Chikungunya, an African name meaning “to become contorted.” While the illness, first identified in Tanzania in 1952, has long bedeviled Africa and Asia, the only recorded cases in the U.S. before July involved patients who contracted the virus abroad.

Now, 11 cases have been confirmed as originating in Florida, spurring concern this may be the beginning of the type of explosive growth seen elsewhere from a disease that has no vaccine or cure. …

Patients who contract Chikungunya have joint swelling and pain, fever, headache and rash for about a week, though some symptoms last months or years in some patients, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. …

Now that Chikungunya is in Florida, it could infect 10,000 people in that state alone, according to Walter Tabachnick, the director of the Florida Medical Entymology Laboratory, who said his estimate is based on the exponential growth of other outbreaks.

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