Pinellas County has their first reported case of the mosquito-borne Chikungunya virus

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla - Five Bay area counties have reported cases of the Chikungunya virus.  The mosquito-borne disease is rarely deadly but does cause joint pain, fever, swelling and a rash.

Now, this Fourth of July weekend, ABC Action News is taking action to help protect your family.

The virus originated in Africa, Asia and islands in the Indian Ocean.  Health officials say travelers to those regions could carry the virus back to the United States and infect local mosquitoes.

The two types of mosquitos that have the ability to carry the virus, Aedes albopictus and Adeas aegypti, are common throughout Florida.

The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain.

Other symptoms include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling and rash.

For Selegna Ramos, 11, those symptoms could be amplified.  She is allergic to mosquitoes.

"When I get bit by a mosquito it gets really really swollen.  I really don't like to be active when I have it," said Ramos.

Not being active is troublesome for Ramos.  We found her climbing trees and practicing her gymnastics routine at Ft. Desoto Park.  Her family is camping there for the Fourth of July.

To ward off mosquitoes and avoid a trip to the emergency room, like many times in the past when Ramos was bitten, the family is prepared with bug spray, citronella candles and bug repellant wristlets.

Ramo even has her own tricks.

"I look on the floor and check if there are any ant piles or bugs around.  I try to avoid them," she explained.

She also wears long sleeves and pants come nightfall.

"I hate them," she added.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer the following tips to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Cover exposed skin by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats.
  • Stay and sleep in screened or air-conditioned rooms.
  • Use a bed net if the area where you are sleeping is exposed to the outdoors.
  • Use bug repellant containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535.
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