The confirmation that a patient in Escambia County has been diagnosed with a pair of mosquito borne illnesses is highlighting the need for mosquito safety measures. The patient, who has not been identified, has been diagnosed with both Dengue Fever and Chikungunya. Dr. John Lanza, the Director of the Florida Department of Health in Escambia County, emphasizes that the patient did not contract these illnesses locally. He felt ill after returning from a trip to a Caribbean island.
Dengue Fever is a mosquito borne illness similar to West Nile Virus where patients experience high fever, severe headaches and pain behind the eyes as well as other symptoms that begin four to seven days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Chikungunya also involves a sudden high fever and headache as well as joint and muscle pains and rash. Again, symptoms start three to seven days after being bitten. And while this particular patient acquired both diseases in the islands, Dr. Lanza says officials are keeping watch for any locally transmitted infections. The patient is being asked to avoid situations where mosquitos may be present for a couple of weeks, although transmission is considered unlikely.
And not all mosquitoes are created equal. Bob Betts, the Director of Mosquito Control in Escambia County says they are targeting a specific mosquito that carries these diseases called the Asian Tiger Mosquito. Betts stresses that these mosquitos breed in container of standing water, such as tires or tarps or flower pots around the home. He says he has seen mosquito larva in bottle caps before, so home owners should inspect their property and empty any standing water. Pools should be kept in repair and bird baths should be rinsed every couple of days. Betts also points out that mosquitoes are a year-round problem in Florida, no matter how cool our winters in the Panhandle may be.
One more note, late Friday the Escambia County DOH confirmed a case of the mosquito borne illness Eastern Equine Encephalitis in an unimmunized horse. The disease is extremely rare in humans but can be transmitted by an infected mosquito. The horse had to be euthanized.
You can find more information about mosquito safety HERE.
There's more about Chikingunya HERE.