Is Keys Disease a real thing? Here’s what I found

I moved here from Upstate NY and I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never heard of Keys Disease, and I was warned by many that it’s a real thing here.  At first I thought, oh no, how do I catch this, how do you get rid of it once you catch it, and to be honest with you, when you live in NY, although not the in the city, but even in the a rural area I grew up in, we still hustled.  Just driving in the Keys can anger the most calm driver.

Below I gathered some local’s take on Keys Disease and how it effects anyone staying here longer than a vacation, shoot I’m told even upon returning from vacationing in the Keys you still have a touch of it.

I’ve been living in the Keys since August of this year and I gotta say I might have a touch of the Key’s Disease, but I still hustle at work, it’s important to me to do a good job no matter where I work or what I do.  I’m dedicated to keeping my NY work ethic and retain some of my NY attitude, but being laid back is always something I’ve strive for and so far living in the Key’s hasn’t gotten rid of my aggravation of standing in a long line while people here take their time, it sometimes gets me in a mood, but I’m working on it, I want to be more like the locals.  I don’t want to be in a state of agitation all the time, that is what it’s like to live in NY, it’s rush, rush, rush, and I’ve had 20+ years of being in that state, so all you locals, help me out, if you’re contagious and have Keys Disease, INFECT ME! 

I would also LOVE IT if you would comment on this post with your own KEYS DISEASE STORY!

I also found this song about Keys Disease, I LOVE IT!  If you haven’t heard it by now, listen it’s quite funny and true!

“Well, I am waiting yet again to hear back from someone who is supposed to do some work on my property. This person is new to me, but was recommended by a neighbor, is licensed and insured, came to my house within days of getting my call totally lucid, and sent me a professional contract via email. Signed and ready for business. Everything looked professional and ready to go, and I thanked my lucky stars I finally found someone to work with who would actually call me back and show up when he said he was going to!

And then? I never heard from him again. No reply to my email. No follow-up with the permit process. Vanished. My neighbor hasn’t heard back from him either for the work he promised to do for her. What happened?

Despite a good start, I think he came down with Keys Disease.

I did a search of “Keys Disease” just to see if his name might come up by chance, and here is what I found:

What about it ?: Keys Disease Defined
I don’t know this Lynn Crawford, but she seems to be an expert in diagnosis.

If you have moved to the Keys, you need to check yourself periodically for signs that you have caught this island plague. I have yet to catch it, but hardworking people all around me are falling prey to it every day.

I have lost 3 potential landscaping companies, 2 plumbers, 3 contractors, 2 doctors, and countless local acquaintances to this disease already, in just the last 2 years.

If you plan to move here, be careful that you don’t catch it. Many local job and rental postings prominently state, “No Keys Disease!” If the idea of honoring your commitments makes you break out in hives, I hope you’re independently wealthy. As for me, the loss of so many around me to this plague has cost me a great deal of time and money and patience already. Things I can’t really afford to lose. So, be warned if you’re coming down to the Florida Keys – if you don’t catch it, you should most surely expect that others you rely on will!”

Keys Disease Defined

Keys Disease
From Lynnkipedia – a totally bogus free encyclopediaNot to be confused with Locks DiseaseKeys Disease (Clavis Morbus) is an infectious, but rarely fatal, disease affecting humans ( homo sapiens). It is believed to be air borne.  In some instances felines (cats) especially the feral variety are affected by or may be carriers of the disease.  The infection causes several days of euphoria and high excitement, followed by malaise and an indifference to time commitments and obligations.

Keys disease is a severe plague on organized activities and the ability to move projects ahead at any rate of speed.  In its most infectious state it is capable of totally destroying the concept of a deadline.  Most susceptible to contamination are boaters, fishermen, sunbathers, lap swimmers, conch lovers and just about anyone who wanders below mile marker 126.5 on the Overseas Highway, also known as U.S. 1 in the farthest southeast reaches of the United States.

Causes/ Signs and Symptoms

Ocean breezes. intense sunshine, abundant fishing and a party atmosphere are thought to cause Keys Disease.  Some researchers are studying the part that coral reefs may play in the proliferation of the disease.  Although there is evidence that Native Americans came to the Keys as early as 3000 B.C., it was not until the 16th century that others arrived there.  The first settlers were Spanish fishermen who came from Cuba, a mere 90 miles to the south.  There is no documentation of Keys Disease in those early days.
The earliest symptoms can be traced back to the days of Ernest Hemingway.  Many of those affected have outward symptoms of “Hemingway Wannabe”, which is most often contracted by over the hill retired men from the Midwest. Other symptoms include uncontrollable urges to sing “Wasting Away in Margaritaville” with a longneck in hand and a plate of deep fried something or other in front of you.

Clinical Signs

Bare Feet, often with ankle bracelets and/or toe rings
Unshaven faces on men
Over- sized sunglasses on women

Deep tans, often with creases around eyes and mouth
Tropical or Harley themed tattoos
Absence of timepieces
Ignorance of national political news


Treatment must take place on the mainland.  There is no effective way to fight Keys Disease while actually in the Keys.  For short term treatment, a trip to the craziness of Miami traffic may provide temporary relief.

Long term treatment must involve travel to the North or Midwest, preferably during a snow storm, and for longer lasting results, a blizzard.


Unfortunately, the only permanent cure for Keys Disease is abstinence from travel on the southernmost reaches of U.S. 1.

Fortunately, since the disease is not fatal, periodic travel to the Keys is not physically or mentally life threatening and may, in fact, prolong life for those who expose themselves prudently.

Fell prey to this condition a few years ago-looking forward to a repeat performance.Our timing was impeccable-left behind a major snowstorm in New York.Met some other awesome sufferers incl.the invincible and fabulous author of this article.Hopeful that my physician prescribes an Rx for the winter blues and recommends that I become afflicted with this disease.Hopeful that next year I will suffer with this condition.

Well written! I am a patient for I have the disease!

they say rum eventually kills the virus unless your liver gives out first.
Tequilla also works – or at least you get the feeling that it is working. Whatever….

before you arrived with the term keys disease we women knew it as the luciferous lust for light. long before your time <3

Hi..I’m Wendy and I also have keys disease…lol…I today am going through some Prety serious withdral symptoms for it has only been a few hours that I am back on the main land …I went into some serious emotional break down going over the 7 Mile bride headed north …knowing I was driving away …against my will…unfortunately NJ awaits me with all the realities of work ..drama..stress…..for this feeling kicks this disease into full gear … wondering…hummmm….should I turn the car around ?? Can I start NEW…live the island life ? …yes …I belive the keys disease is VERY real…and not looking for a known cure …lol

My friend sent me a card this week with a photo of a beautiful KW sunset on the front and this message on the inside. We’ve been having fun adding to the list so I thought I would share. I’d love to hear some more!

“You know you’ve got a case of keys disease when……

1. You take your shoes and socks off at work, close your eyes and try to imagine the sand between your toes.

2. You have products from the KW winery and Kermits delivered to your home.

3. You start counting down the days til your next trip before you’ve even finished unpacking! (83 days here!!!! )

4. You set your alarm clock to the rooster setting BC you love waking up to the cock-a-doodle-do

5. You’ve decorated the walls of your home with your favorite photos from your last trip.

6.You’ve put a lot of hours into perfecting your key lime pie.

7. You’re still trying to remember what happened after your last visit to the chart room.

8. You crave fresh fish and stone crab on a daily basis

9. Talking about conch fritters makes you drool

10. You tried to create a mini KW in your back yard including thatched umbrellas and a mile marker 0 sign

Another thread in this forum talks about the very real possibility that a strange affliction called “Keys Disease” exists.

I went about 6 weeks ago for the first time … OMG, we loved it.

Unfortunately, I think on the first trip, you just kind of take it all in, and try to figure out what KW is all about, and really miss alot. My next trip, I’m gonna stop rushing all over, and just grab a bar stool and chilllllllllllll.

Then, digitalprintman added:
That kinda sounds like what is called “Keys Disease”.

It’s always fun to see the people that are cranked and just don’t get the whole mood of Key West and the Keys. It is very laid back. The shop may say they open at 9 am but that’s just an estimate. Whenever they get there is opening time. It can take a couple of days to get into the Keys frame of mind. Most times the people that are in for a day or two just don’t have the time to chill out. Sometimes they get upset because everyone else seems to be lazy or so laid back that you wonder if they have a heart beat or not.

It’s a different way of life from what most of us deal with on a day to day basis.

So the other day it was a really nice day. I decided to leave work early , call in personal to the other job and take the kayak out in the mangroves. I spent the next five hours in a kayak with some good friends and a cooler between my legs. Explored the mangroves, had a pinic on our yaks , washed it down with some Hienies and enjoyed a sunset from the open water out by channel marker 6. :)

Is this what is refered to as Keys Diesease? I just live here. To me it is par for the coarse. :) HAHA.

I have a link to all the Key West webcams on both my work and home pc desktops. I watch them at lesat a dozen times a day.

AM I INFECTED?????? :o

Going back for our 3rd time theis February for my B-Day.

Well, we just confirmed our second floor room at the Heron House and now it’s only 94 days until we’re conchin’ out down in KW. I just read about the Schooner Wharf bar’s morning happy hour: 7am-12. I think one symptom of Keys Disease that I will have is an insatiable desire for a cold beer at about 7:30 a.m… :P

Remember there is always THE HANGOVER HOSPITAL!  When I saw this, I really thought it was some kind of joke, nope it’s real, and actually needed here in the Keys!

You can schedule your appointment here:


Thought some of you reading might like to listen to (Escape) The Pina Colada Song

One thought on “Is Keys Disease a real thing? Here’s what I found”

  1. So after 1973 visit, we have had many years of 1, 2, 3, times a year vacationing in the Keys! We are 7 months full time Stock Island residents & loving it. FOMO is only the start of Keysdesease! Bicycling, day drinking, Music. Being on the water for any reason. A cold drink & people watching.

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