RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) -
A painful illness carried by mosquitoes has state health officials very concerned.
The Chikungunya virus has rarely been seen in the Commonwealth but the CDC reports six Virginians have been infected this year alone.
It's been a bad year for mosquitoes and workers at Mosquito Squad and other pest control companies are swamped.
"We've been extremely busy," says Mosquito Squad General Manager Greg Chittum. "Unfortunately all the snow pooled a lot of water and as soon as the warmth came in a lot of those mosquito eggs have hatched."
They've hatched and in some cases they're carrying Chikungunya. Those infected likely become very sick.
"They have such terrible joint pains and back pains and they're so incapacitated it's like they're all bent up and they can't move," said David Gaines, an entomologist with the Virginia Department of Health.
Experts believe Chickungunya was brought into the states by travelers to the Caribbean.
Not everybody suffers the same but fever, headache, and nausea are almost guaranteed.
"The most common lingering symptoms are arthritis or joint pain that can last for months or even years," says Haines.
So far 80 confirmed cases in America have been reported to the CDC.
Posters are going up at airports and cruise terminals urging folks to look for symptoms and reminding all of us how dangerous these little pests can be.
"Unfortunately they rank among the top transporters of dangerous diseases," Chittum says.
Experts have five tips, all beginning with the letter T, to help keep mosquitoes away from your property:
Tip over items in your yard to reduce standing water.
Toss excess grass and trash as these are prime breeding areas for mosquitoes.
Turn over large yard items that could hold water like children's sandboxes.
Tarps - straighten them out so water can sit on top.
Treat. If you have a bad problem, you may want to get professionals in to spray for the bug.