Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Health officials in Miami-Dade County, Fla., issued a mosquito-borne illness alert after doctors diagnosed another resident with dengue, a virus that has been seen in record numbers in the Americas this year.
The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County said there have been 11 cases of the virus in the county so far in 2019.
The dengue virus is spread to humans through mosquito bites and can cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, aches, pain, nausea and rash, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
The health alert in South Florida comes amid a rise of the virus in the Americas this year. Countries in North and South America reported 2.7 million cases of dengue in the first 10 months of 2019, the most in the region's history.
Through the end of October, there have been 1,206 deaths from the disease as well as 22,127 severe cases, the Pan American Health Organization said in a report on Nov. 13.
The 2019 figure is 13 percent higher than the previous record year for cases in 2015. PAHO said, though, the virus' mortality rate is down 26 percent this year.
Brazil had the highest number of cases, more than 2 million. Mexico had 213,822 cases, Nicaragua had 157,573, Colombia had 106,066 and Honduras 96,379.
The highest incidence rates were seen in Nicaragua (2,271 cases per 100,00 people), Belize (1,021 cases), Honduras (995 cases) and Brazil (711 cases).
"Risk communication and information to the public is essential during outbreaks to reduce adverse impact, decrease domestic breeding sites, and for affected persons to seek timely medical assistance, and therefore prevent severe cases and deaths from dengue," PAHO said in a statement accompanying its report.
"Communication messages should focus on the identification of warning signs and obtaining timely medical assistance. In addition, communication campaigns should raise public awareness on the importance of vector control interventions at home, identification of febrile cases, and special measures for vector control."
The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County urged residents to eliminate standing water to discourage mosquitoes from multiplying and to wear protective clothing or use repellent.