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Health Team

Campers take precautions against new mosquito-borne virus

Posted July 18

— Health officials in North Carolina want residents to remain diligent in protecting themselves from mosquito bites after Florida announced its first two locally acquired cases of chikungunya.

Nine people in the Tar Heel state have been diagnosed with the virus, but all had gotten it while traveling in the Caribbean.

The Florida cases show that chikungunya-carrying mosquitoes are present in the United States.

"What we're seeing in Florida is that it's proven that the strain of the virus that's circulating in the Caribbean can become established in the continental United States," said Dr. Carl Williams of the State Health Department.

The tiger mosquito, commonly found in North Carolina could transmit chikungunya, Williams said.

That news made campers at Jordan Lake Friday extra cautious.

"We make sure the kids are loaded down at all times with bug spray," said Patsy Ridgell. "We're trying to be prepared and be careful."

At their campsite the Ortiz family laid in bug sprays, repellent creams and a thermacell to keep mosquitoes at bay.

"We camp regularly and try to ward them off whether there's a special virus or not," said Amy Ortiz.

Symptoms of chikungunya typically include the sudden onset of fever and severe joint pains in the hands and feet.

Health officials urge North Carolinians to wear bug repellent or mosquito nets during outdoor activities. To reduce the opportunity for mosquitoes to breed, eliminate standing water in gutters or potted plants.

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