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Saturday, Oct 25, 2014
Health & Fitness

Chikungunya fever reported in Palm Beach County


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A week after a case of chikungunya fever was recorded in Hillsborough County, another was discovered in Palm Beach County.

It’s Florida’s fourth case of the mosquito-borne disease, and all the patients had traveled to the Caribbean.

The Palm Beach Post reports the Palm Beach County Health Department confirmed the infection in a 66-year-old man who had recently been on the island of Hispaniola.

The person infected in Hillsborough was a 44-year-old woman. The other Florida cases involve a 29-year-old woman in Broward County and a 30-year-old woman in Miami-Dade County, the Florida Department of Health said.

The disease is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It has been documented in 40 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas. In the Caribbean, the first locally transmitted case was confirmed in December, and hospitals and clinics throughout the region are seeing thousands of people with symptoms.

“You feel it in your bones, your fingers and your hands. It’s like everything is coming apart,” said 34-year-old Sahira Francisco as she and her daughter waited for treatment at a hospital in San Cristobal, a town in the southern Dominican Republic that has seen a surge of the cases in recent days.

The name chikungunya is derived from an African word that loosely translates as “contorted with pain.” Symptoms typically begin three to seven days after being bitten and include fever and severe joint pains, often in the hands and feet.

People encountering for the first time say the description is fitting. While the virus is rarely fatal it is extremely debilitating.

“It is terrible, I have never in my life gotten such an illness,” said Maria Norde, a 66-year-old woman confined to bed at her home on the lush eastern Caribbean island of Dominica. “All my joints are in pain.”

There is no vaccine or medication to prevent the disease.

Tribune reporter José Patiño Girona contributed to this report.

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