Seven months after the first autochthonous chikungunya cases were reported in the Western hemisphere in early December, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) has reported two locally acquired cases of the mosquito borne disease in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach County in the southeast area of the Sunshine State. These are the first such cases reported in the United States.
This come less than one week after DOH officials reported a locally acquired dengue fever case in Miami-Dade County.
“The Department has been conducting statewide monitoring for signs of any locally acquired cases of chikungunya.” said Dr. Anna Likos, State Epidemiologist and Disease Control and Health Protection Director. “We encourage everyone to take precautions against mosquitoes to prevent chikungunya and other mosquito-borne diseases by draining standing water, covering your skin with clothing and repellent and covering doors and windows with screens.”
“The arrival of chikungunya virus, first in the tropical Americas and now in the United States, underscores the risks posed by this and other exotic pathogens,” said Roger Nasci, Ph.D., chief of CDC’s Arboviral Diseases Branch. “This emphasizes the importance of CDC’s health security initiatives designed to maintain effective surveillance networks, diagnostic laboratories and mosquito control programs both in the United States and around the world.”
Chikungunya virus is transmitted to people by two species of mosquitoes, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus. Both species are found in the southeastern United States and limited parts of the southwest; Aedes albopictus is also found further north up the East Coast, through the Mid-Atlantic States and is also found in the lower Midwest.
CDC and the Florida Department of Health are assessing whether there are additional locally acquired cases and are providing consultation to the public on ways to prevent further spread of the virus by controlling mosquitoes and educating people about personal and household protection measures to avoid mosquito bites. CDC has asked state health departments to report cases of chikungunya to help track the virus in the United States. Local transmission occurs when a mosquito bites someone who is infected with the virus and then bites another person.
It is not known what course chikungunya will take now in the United States. CDC officials believe chikungunya will behave like dengue virus in the United States, where imported cases have resulted in sporadic local transmission but have not caused widespread outbreaks. None of the more than 200 imported chikungunya cases between 2006 and 2013 have triggered a local outbreak. However, more chikungunya-infected travelers coming into the United States increases the likelihood that local chikungunya transmission will occur. For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page