St. Lucie County chikungunya fever victim Linda Sampson speaks out

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - St. Lucie County is taking action to prevent another case of chikungunya fever. On Wednesday, the health department announced one person has been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne disease.

Linda Sampson thought it was just back pain instead it turned out to be chikungunya fever. She says if it can happen to her, it can happen to anyone.

"It doesn't drive you to run to the doctor very quickly, and that's the one thing I would tell people, just go and get checked.  At least this way you know what you're dealing with," she says.

Sampson doesn't remember getting bit by a mosquito. She says the pain started suddenly two weeks ago. She woke up one morning with back pain. Last week she went to the doctor, was tested and found out it was chikungunya fever.

"You start thinking, 'No way, that can't be me, I'll go play a lottery ticket first.'  You know, that's what I said, and I was not going to go get tested because there was nothing to force me," Sampson said.

She's feeling much better today.

"I'm all right," says Sampson, "There's aches and pains and that's the biggest pain in the neck right now, not to be funny, but it's still in the joints and it still gives a little zing once in a while. But other than that, I feel fine."

Sampson lives on South 11th Street, a residential area north of Dan McCarty School. She did not need to be hospitalized and is recovering at home, but health officials worry that Sampson might not be the only one.

People living in the area say they've heard of chikungunya fever but never thought it would strike in their own backyard.

"It's crazy, it's dangerous," says neighbor Joseph Desir.

Now neighbors worry there could be others.

"Very concerned," says resident Jody Marie, "There's a lot of children in this neighborhood and a lot of older folks and some of them may get very ill."

That's why the St. Lucie County Health Department plans to go door-to-door in the next week.

"To test good specimens to find other people who may have been infected," says County Health Officer Larry Lee.

In the meantime, people are taking precautions around their homes to keep mosquitoes away.

"I apply some sprays, some bug sprays," says Desir.

"I'm checking my home, turning any water over," says Marie.

But not everyone does that. We found a fountain outside a house. It was filled with water and mosquito larvae. That's big red flag for health officials after this diagnosis.

Here are some tips to keep mosquitoes away from you and your house:

*Drain standing water from items like garbage cans, gutters, buckets, birdbaths

*Wear bug spray. Repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR353 are effective

*Cover doors and windows with screens and repair any holes.

Symptoms of chikungunya fever include a sudden onset of a high fever (over 102 degrees), severe joint pain, muscle pain, rash and headaches.  Symptoms typically show up between three and seven days after a bite from an infected mosquito.

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