Broward County dengue case raises mild concern

With confirmation of the first locally acquired dengue fever case in Broward County, South Florida health officials Friday urged people not to worry — but they also ramped up efforts to control the offending mosquito.

Dr. Paula Thaqi, director of the Broward Health Department, confirmed the new case. She would not reveal the patient’s identity or residence.

“The individual, who has fully recovered, reported no out-of-county travel in the two weeks prior to becoming ill,” she said, adding that residents should take some precautions. “People should not be worried . . . we all need to take steps to avoid mosquito-borne diseases.”

In Broward, mosquito control officers said prevention efforts would include spraying pesticides from trucks; in Miami-Dade, officers said residents should empty standing water from outdoor and indoor containers.

Dengue fever has been on the rise in Florida in the last two years — the first appearance of the disease in the state in 40 years, health officials have said.

Key West has reported 53 cases of locally acquired dengue fever in 2009 and 2010. All other cases in Florida — there were two in Leon County and an earlier one in Broward — were found in victims who contracted the disease in Key West. No cases have been confirmed in Miami-Dade County.

The fact that the disease in the new Broward case was acquired locally means it apparently was contracted from the bite of a mosquito that had bitten another Broward resident who was infected, health experts said.

The Broward dengue fever case was from the Type 3 strain of dengue, meaning it did not come from Key West, where the cases are the Type 1 strain.

Having the painful disease passed from one individual to another locally might suggest the disease is becoming endemic — meaning it occurs widely in a local area, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s early in the investigation, and we don’t have all the answers,” said Carina Blackmore, a mosquito-disease specialist with the Florida Department of Health. “We’re looking for additional cases and trying to eliminate the infection in the mosquito population to reduce the number of people exposed.”

She said health officials are sending samples from the new case to the CDC dengue fever clinic in Puerto Rico for genetic testing to see if they can discover its country of origin.

Dr. Gary Clark, a mosquito-disease expert with the USDA Research Service, said it’s too early to label the disease a serious problem in South Florida.

“There may be sporadic cases here and there, but I don’t expect anything like an epidemic,” he said.

Clark spent years in the CDC’s main dengue fever clinic in Puerto Rico, where a dengue epidemic was declared in March with more than 2,000 cases.

On Friday, experts were debating how best to stop the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the dengue virus from one human to others.

Broward Mosquito Control director Joseph Marhefka said his staff is doing extra spraying in the neighborhood of the person who contracted the virus.

“We’re stepping it up there to knock down the chain of transmission of the virus. And we’re setting mosquito traps to see if the mosquito population there is higher,” he said.

In Miami-Dade, Mosquito Control Director Sandra Fisher said she is not increasing spraying.

“The dengue mosquito is not controlled by spraying, regardless of the images we saw on TV news of the [Broward] trucks going out,” she said. “It’s not how we would respond to an outbreak of dengue here.”

Mosquitoes that carry dengue fever live very close to humans, who make up 95 percent of the blood meals that keep them alive, Fisher said. The mosquitoes live in flower pots, birdbaths, old tires and other containers that fill with water during rains. They try to get inside houses to breed in vases, pet dishes, even bottle tops, she said.

Spray from trucks doesn’t reach those areas, she said, and the way to stop the mosquitoes is to empty all such containers. For containers too big to empty, homeowners can buy commercial larvicides at home improvement stores, she said.

Symptoms of dengue fever include a fever above 101 degrees, severe headache and pain behind the eyes and in the bones, nausea and vomiting and a rash. Nicknamed “breakbone fever,” the disease has no vaccine. Doctors mostly treat its symptoms with pain killers. It is seldom fatal, although a more severe strain, dengue hemorrhagic fever, is more dangerous. No case of the more severe strain has been reported in the United States.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/08/13/1775488/local-dengue-case-raises-mild.html#ixzz0wn6yG29x

Mosquito Control Services ~ Al Hoffer’s
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2 Responses to “Broward County dengue case raises mild concern”

  1. GRATUIT-WEBFR.COM- Travel, holidays and other free information. Says:

    India’s Yuvraj suffering with dengue fever – reports…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. Tom Says:

    I’m not sure how I stumbled across your blog, but I find this article both interesting and disturbing. A very close friend worked in Managua, Nicaragua for five years on a major Dengue fever study with UC Berkeley and the Nicaraguan Ministry of Health. I really hope this is an exception rather than a new rule…

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