Florida’s first case of dengue fever in 2018 confirmed

By UM News

Florida’s first case of dengue fever in 2018 confirmed

By UM News
Vector-borne specialist John Beier tells us what we should know about the illness.

The state’s first case of dengue fever this year has been confirmed in Miami-Dade County, health officials have reported.

The most common symptoms of the mosquito-borne virus are fever and one or more of the following symptoms: headache; eye pain (typically behind the eyes); muscle, joint, or bone pain; rash; nausea and vomiting; or unusual bleeding (nose or gum bleed, small red spots under the skin, or unusual bruising).

There is no vaccine to prevent or medicine to treat the illness. Symptoms usually lasts 4 to 7 days, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Miami-Dade has reported 21 cases of dengue fever during the past decade, with Broward County reporting four cases during that same span.

“It is a big public health concern that we have dengue,” said vector-borne specialist John Beier, professor and director of the Division of Environment and Public Health in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. “People need to be informed and take precautions.”

Beier tells us what we need to know about the virus:

What type of mosquito spreads dengue fever, and what precautions should people take?

Dengue is spread by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. People need to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, and as much as possible, they should remove standing water outdoors around their homes.

Can an infected person pass along dengue fever to another person through sexual contact?

No

South Florida experiences almost year-round hot and humid weather. Do we need to take precautions against dengue fever throughout the year, and can mosquitoes that carry dengue survive even when our weather cools down?

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are present year-round in Miami-Dade County. Populations decrease a lot due to colder temperatures in the winter. From December through March, the mosquitoes are present at lower levels. Nevertheless, people should take precautions throughout the year.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito can also spread the Zika virus. Miami-Dade experienced an uptick in Zika cases a couple years ago. Do we now have it under control, and if so, to what do you attribute the decline in infection rates in our county?

After the 2016 Zika outbreak here, Miami Dade Mosquito Control upgraded mosquito control operations. Zika died out in the Americas, so we do not have so many imported cases from travelers. Better mosquito control and the much lower number of imported cases is the reason why we no longer see local Zika transmission.

CDC fact sheet on dengue 1CDC fact sheet on dengue 2