As if West Nile panic isn't enough of a reason to crop dust your apartment, health officials on Long Island have diagnosed three cases of yet another mosquito-borne disease: Chikungunya virus. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention says this baby boasts "severe and disabling" symptoms like fever and joint pain.

Three patients at the North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset have come down with the tropical disease after traveling in the Caribbean. The patients all traveled separately and doctors say the cases are unrelated, which is cause for at least some concern—the three cases on Long Island are just a sampling of the 20 confirmed Chikungunya cases statewide this year.

The CDC says people infected with Chikungunya virus, which is most commonly found in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America, display the following symptoms:

  • Most people infected with chikungunya virus will develop some symptoms.
  • Symptoms usually begin 3-7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
  • The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain.
  • Other symptoms may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash.
  • Chikungunya disease does not often result in death, but the symptoms can be severe and disabling.
  • Most patients feel better within a week. In some people, the joint pain may persist for months.
  • People at risk for more severe disease include newborns infected around the time of birth, older adults (≥65 years), and people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.
  • Once a person has been infected, he or she is likely to be protected from future infections.

Chikungunya cases have also been confirmed in Florida, and Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta told reporters he may have contracted the disease in the Dominican Republic recently.

Health officials say it isn't likely Chikunguya will become a full-blown epidemic, but there are two types of mosquitoes in the United States that can carry the disease, so local outbreaks are possible. The city's Health Department tells us the following:

We have not seen local transmission of chikungunya virus in New York City, but continue to monitor mosquitoes across the city as part of our Comprehensive Mosquito Surveillance and Control Plan. New Yorkers can protect themselves by: · Using air-conditioning, windows or door screens to keep mosquitoes outside

· Using mosquito repellents

· Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants (weather permitting)

· Removing standing water from your property to cut down on potential mosquito breeding sites. Call 311 to report standing water that you cannot remove.