Suspected dengue fever case found in Miami-Dade

BY FRED TASKER AND CAMMY CLARK

ftasker@MiamiHerald.com

The first suspected locally acquired case of dengue fever in Miami-Dade County was reported Thursday by county health officials. A viral disease that afflicts 100 million worldwide every year, it hadn’t been seen in Florida since 1934.

“Dengue is a viral disease transmitted by a breed of mosquito common to the southeastern United States and the tropics,” the Miami-Dade Health Department said in a news release. “It is not spread from person to person. More than 100 million cases of dengue occur every year worldwide.”

Symptoms include a high fever, severe headache with pain behind the eyes, a rash and pain in bones and joints, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is no vaccine, and doctors treat mainly symptoms. It is seldom fatal except to the very young and elderly with other health conditions.

Health workers urged residents to protect themselves by avoiding the outdoors at dusk and dawn, wearing clothing that protects the body, applying mosquito repellent that contains DEET and draining all open containers of water from porches and patios.

The Miami-Dade announcement came as Key West health officials also found a second small outbreak in Key West.

“I don’t want people to think they have to stay indoors,” said Bob Eadie, administrator of the Monroe County Health Department, “but at the same time, I don’t want to minimize it.”

Key West had 27 cases in 2009 in an outbreak that stopped with the end of mosquito season in mid-October. But since April of this year, 16 new cases have been confirmed.

On Tuesday, a warning was issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We’re concerned that if dengue gains a foothold in Key West, it will travel to other southern cities where the mosquito that transmits dengue is present, like Miami,” Harold Margolis, chief of CDC’s dengue branch, said in the report.

Margolis characterized the new cases as representing “the reemergence of dengue fever in Florida and elsewhere in the U.S. after 75 years.” He noted that those infected had not traveled outside Florida, “so we need to determine if these cases are an isolated occurrence or if dengue has once again become endemic in the continental U.S.”

Until now, Miami-Dade had had very few cases of dengue fever — and all of them had been among people who had traveled outside the United States to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Conte said.

In February, Puerto Rico declared an epidemic of the disease, with more than 200 cases reported in January alone, and three deaths by mid-June.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/07/15/1731660/suspected-dengue-fever-case-found.html#ixzz0tmyygP4K


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