Via KeysNet.com: Despite Caribbean outbreak, little fear of mosquito-borne chikungunya virus in the Keys. Excerpt:
Despite its close proximity, Florida Keys Mosquito Control District Director Michael Doyle says it's unlikely that an ongoing Caribbean outbreak of mosquito-borne virus chikungunya would impact the Keys.
"A disease like this, you have to have all the ingredients in the right conditions to have an epidemic," he said.
That includes "lots of people outside most of the time; lots of infected people arriving and lots of adult mosquitoes flying around."
Chikungunya has "spread like wildfire" in several small Caribbean nations, which are typically light on preventative mosquito control. Symptoms include fever and severe joint pain.
Doyle said chikungunya is transmitted to humans by infected Aedes aegypti and Asian tiger mosquitoes, both of which have been largely eradicated in the Keys. The Aedes aegypti caused minor outbreaks of dengue fever, which has symptoms similar to chikungunya, in Old Town Key West in 2009.
"Every once in a while we find one, but they're certainly not widespread," Doyle said of the Asian tiger. "On a lot of these Caribbean islands, they're rampant."
"We do a lot of preventative [mosquito control] here. We have higher risk because our temperatures are warm all the time and we have a lot of people coming in from all over the place, but it's lower because of our mosquito control program and we don't have the Asian Tiger mosquito," he said.
Doyle added that "our normal mosquito program is better than the emergency response pretty much anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere." It includes door-to-door inspections and aerial spraying not done elsewhere.
"We're better able to handle it than anywhere," he said.
Dengue fever hasn't presented itself in the Keys since 2010, but it's common in the Caribbean. In the Caribbean, chikungunya has spread rapidly.
"In December there was one case in the Caribbean. By this week there were 55,000 cases," he said.