Dengue Fever outbreak in Florida

Posted By KRISTEN BUTLER,  |  Aug. 27, 2013 at 10:59 AM
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Dengue fever is popping up in South Florida and health officials have issued mosquito-borne disease advisories.

Several cases have been confirmed in Martin and St. Lucie counties in the past week along with another case in Miami-Dade.

Dengue fever infects some 100 million people worldwide each year, but the disease is rare in the United States.

Until the 1930s, dengue was common in Florida, but air conditioning, screened windows and mosquito control nearly eliminated the disease. Until 2009, there had not been a case reported in Florida or the continental U.S. since 1934.

But the sub-tropical disease made its way back into Florida when a Key West outbreak sickened 28 people in 2009. Health officials at the time found that about 5 percent of 240 people they tested around Key West showed signs of having been infected by the virus that causes dengue.

Dengue symptoms include fever, headache and pain in muscles, joints and bones that can be excruciating, but mild cases of the illness can often be mistaken for the flu.

More severe cases of the disease, called dengue hemorrhagic fever, can be fatal. There is no treatment for dengue, though there has been renewed interest in developing a vaccine.

Dengue cases, much like other mosquito-borne diseases, spike during warm seasons, and CDC epidemiologists estimate dengue fever rates will increase worldwide due to climate change.

To avoid contracting dengue, health officials recommend staying inside when mosquitoes are biting, or using insect repellant and wearing protective clothing. Eliminate possible mosquito breeding grounds by draining any standing water around your home or yard.

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