(RxWiki News) Dengue fever might sound like a foreign concern for most Americans, but residents of Florida are learning that the tropical disease is not as far-removed as they might have thought.
Health officials have been discovering locally-acquired cases of this mosquito-spread disease in the state of Florida, leading to warnings about preventing insect bites.
According to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in Martin County, two additional cases of dengue were discovered this week, bringing the total count to 20 cases.
"Empty standing water from around your home."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), dengue fever is a common issue in tropic and sub-tropic regions of the world, but rare in the US. It can cause uncomfortable symptoms like high fever, severe headache, muscle and bone pain and rash.
The Florida cases were acquired in the Rio and Jensen Beach area on Florida's southeastern coast.
FDOH began a door-to-door survey of the affected areas at the end of last week in order to understand the nature of dengue fever present in the area.
"Health department field teams continue to work in the Rio and Jensen Beach area providing prevention information, a risk assessment survey and with consent, doing a blood draw for dengue testing," reported FDOH.
According to FDOH, a similar survey was used with success in the Key West region of Florida when an outbreak of dengue occurred there in 2009.
FDOH reported that while Martin County Mosquito Control has been taking steps to control the insects, blocking dengue will depend on individuals also taking action to fight mosquitos on their property.
In an FDOH news release, Karlette Peck, Health Officer with FDOH in Martin County, stressed the importance of these individual measures to protect against mosquitos.
"In order to stop the spread of dengue fever, we must stop the mosquito bites. We urge everyone in the Rio and Jensen Beach area to take this seriously," said Peck.
"Simple precautions, such as the use of mosquito repellent will help to keep residents and visitors healthy. This is especially important when people are working outside or are active in and around their homes," Peck explained. "It is also critical that people continue to drain standing water in anything that accumulates water around their homes."
FDOH noted that items like garbage cans, gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys and flower pots can all gather water and provide a place for mosquitos to breed.
People who think they might have dengue fever should consult a doctor, says CDC.