MIAMI — State health officials are warning Floridians to protect themselves against mosquitoes.
The biting bugs can carry debilitating diseases and pose an elevated threat to public health during the state’s rainy season.
Officials are urging people to drain water from their garbage cans and gutters and cover their skin by wearing shoes, socks and long pants. Mosquito repellant is also encouraged.
Health officials say residents of Pinellas County should be aware of the mosquito-borne chikungunya virus, which has made its way to the Caribbean from Africa, Asia and islands in the Indian Ocean. They say travelers to those regions could carry the virus back to the United States and infect local mosquito populations.
The Florida Department of Public Health has confirmed at least 18 cases of imported chikungunya in the state.