Yet within the past year, there has been a surge of cases of the disease in the state among people who’ve caught it without leaving America: As of the end of June, 12 "locally acquired" cases of the disease have been reported in the Key West area, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported this month. And that’s on top of the 27 cases linked back to Key West in 2009.
Because of the Florida cases and an outbreak in the Caribbean, dengue has been getting lots of attention in the news. But health experts say there is no reason for Americans to panic.
So, first off, the facts: Dengue is a viral disease that is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. You can’t catch it from someone else, and it’s not usually fatal. General symptoms include high fever, intense headache, muscle and joint pain and loss of appetite. If you catch dengue, CDC recommends you take acetaminophen, rest, drink plenty of fluids and consult a physician.
While there is no vaccine for dengue, the best way to fight the fever is to protect yourself from mosquitoes. Our recent Get Ready blog entry on mosquitoes has some great steps to follow to avoid being bit, and our new dengue fact sheet has even more information.
Wondering why this is happening now? Experts suggest that climate change may contribute to the spread of dengue, which may help explain the recent Florida cases. With increases in heat, rainfall and humidity, the United States and other nations in the Northern Hemisphere could see more such mosquito-borne tropical diseases within their borders. So whether you live in or are travelling to at-risk parts of the world, remember to take precautions against mosquitoes and listen to information from health officials.
Credit: Photo by Lydia Bilby, courtesy iStockphoto