Manatee County chikungunya case brings state total to 66

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- A Manatee County man has been diagnosed with chikungunya fever after a trip to the Dominican Republic, even after he says he took measures to protect himself.

Florida is #1…not for the weather and not for the beaches, but for the most cases of travel-associated chikungunya.

Manatee County resident Bill Hardy brought back more than souvenirs from his mission trip to the Dominican Republic. “We were told prior to going down that the chikungunya fever was down there; the virus is down there and there had been cases of it.”

After he got back from his trip…“I started feeling old.”

Pain started in his knees mostly. “It made me feel like I needed to have a walker, and then my elbows, and my hands.”

The pain escalated, and now Hardy is one of the many confirmed imported cases of chikungunya in Florida.

“So far this week, we're up to 66 human cases.” Environmental specialist Wade Brennan of Mosquito Management Services says people are more willing to travel with chikungunya because they don’t think the symptoms add up to much. “With chikungunya, you don't feel the severity of the symptoms as Dengue, that's what makes it a little bit more of a dangerous virus.”

Here’s some advice from Sarasota County Mosquito Management Services for avoiding mosquito-bourne disease:

The five D's

-Dusk and Dawn: avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are biting

-Dress: wear loose, long sleeve, light colored clothing

-Defend yourself by using repellents

-Drain: empty water from any containers

To report a mosquito problem or request more information, call 861-5000.