ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Orange County is now dealing with 14 cases of the chikungunya virus and Mosquito Control is taking proactive steps to keep residents safe.
The 14 cases in Orange County are all cases where those who contracted the illness had traveled outside of the U.S., were bitten by mosquitoes there and then contracted the illness. They all traveled to either Haiti or the Dominican Republic where chikungunya is endemic, according to Health Department officials.
Chickungunya is seldom fatal, but it’s untreatable and can be a debilitating disease carried by two mosquito species in central Florida.
That’s why inspectors want residents to know how simple things around a yard can lead to an infestation.
On Wednesday, inspectors went to hot spots in certain Orange County neighborhoods for intensified mosquito sweeps.
Inspector Jorge Gonzales advised residents to get rid of mosquito magnets, like bird baths or other containers of standing water.
Back in the lab, Mosquito Control manager Dr. Tom Breaud said concern is growing over chikungunya.
“Not usually fatal but can be very painful,” Breaud said.
He said many of the sweeps are proactive just to see if the species that carry the disease are in the area.
The Yellow Fever mosquito was found in a neighborhood on West Lancaster Road and Sheryl Ann Drive, in south Orange County.
Breaud said that means the county will step up spraying and, hopefully, stave off the arrival of chickungunya a little longer.
“Right now we’re just trying to get ahead of the curve a little bit,” he said.
Inspectors emphasize they need the public’s help to combat the problem.
They’re dropping off yellow flyers on residents’ doors with instructions.