Dengue Fever in Florida: Understanding the Virus and Its Recent Confirmed Cases


Eleven confirmed cases of dengue virus in Florida raise concerns about the mosquito-borne infection. The Florida Department of Health reports that Broward County reported two cases and Miami-Dade County reported nine cases.  While the dengue virus typically originates outside of Florida, one of the cases reported in Miami-Dade County last week was acquired locally.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of the global population lives in areas with dengue risk. Viruses are frequently the primary cause of illness in these regions, especially in tropical and subtropical climates worldwide.

Dengue virus infects up to 400 million individuals annually, according to the CDC website. Approximately 100 million individuals become infected each year, and 40,000 perish from severe dengue.

What is dengue fever?

The bite of an infected mosquito transmits the Dengue virus, also known as dengue fever or “break-bone fever” because pain is one of the main symptoms. According to the World Health Organization, many individuals experience no symptoms, while others develop a relatively benign illness that typically improves within one to two weeks. Some individuals may develop severe dengue, which is a medical emergency that may necessitate hospitalization. 

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Dengue symptoms

Approximately one-fourth of those afflicted with dengue will develop mild to severe symptoms, according to the CDC. One in twenty infected individuals will develop severe dengue, which can cause distress, internal bleeding, and even mortality.

The most widespread symptom? Typically associated with fever are the following symptoms:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rash
  • Aches and pains, including pain behind the eyes

According to the WHO, if symptoms develop, they typically begin 4 to 10 days after infection and last 2 to 7 days.

Additional symptoms that may indicate severe dengue include:

  • Belly pain, tenderness
  • Vomiting (at least 3 times in 24 hours)
  • Bleeding from the nose or gums
  • Vomiting blood, or blood in the stool
  • Feeling tired, restless or irritable

“Immediately go to a local clinic or emergency room” if you or a family member has any of those symptoms. “Warning signs usually begin in the 24 to 48 hours after your fever has gone away.”

Dengue treatment

There is no specific treatment available for dengue illness. The majority of cases can be treated at home with pain medications such as acetaminophen, according to the WHO. Dengvaxia is a vaccine for individuals who have previously contracted dengue and reside in a high-risk area. Dengvaxia is the “only dengue vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and recommended for routine use by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices,” according to the CDC. In 2022, it became accessible to children and adolescents ages 9 to 16 in “dengue-endemic areas” such as American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Dengue infection can be avoided most effectively by avoiding mosquito stings.

Experts recommend using insect repellent and donning loose-fitting, long-sleeved shirts and trousers to prevent insect bites. The CDC and WHO recommend insect repellents with the following active ingredients:

  • DEET
  • IR3535
  • Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE)
  • Picaridin (KBR 3023)

Some repellents are not appropriate for young children: DEET should not be used on infants younger than 2 months, and lemon eucalyptus oil should not be applied to children younger than 3 years.

Experts also recommend eliminating standing water around your residence or yard, where mosquitoes may deposit eggs.

  • In accordance to research, these mosquito repellents are the most effective means of eradicating the insects.

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Source: CBS News

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