(RxWiki News) The recent cases of dengue fever seen in Florida could signal more than just a few random infections. Officials are urging the public to take the situation seriously and to take steps to prevent the spread of the mosquito-carried disease.
Dengue is common in the world's tropics and sub-tropics, but patients rarely become infected while in the US. However, it has been determined that the cases discovered in Florida this summer were acquired in beach communities in the southeast of the state.
Florida Department of Health (FDOH) in Martin County has reported a total of 18 cases of locally-acquired dengue fever. Officials asked the public to take steps to help prevent the breeding of mosquitos.
"Drain standing water, a favorite mosquito breeding spot."
FDOH reported that the discovered cases have all been connected to the Rio and Jensen Beach areas on the southeastern coast of Florida.
"Dengue fever is a painful, debilitating disease but is rarely fatal," explained FDOH. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, eye pain, muscle pain, joint pain and bleeding. A person usually becomes ill three days to two weeks after they are bitten by an infected mosquito.
According to Al Jazeera America, Gene Lemire, director of Martin County Mosquito Control (MCMC), highlighted the seriousness of the situation and the need to take action.
“We’re in the fourth week of this and we’ve got 18 cases. It’s at a pretty serious level. We’ve been to 1,500 residences, and we’re finding 28 to 30 percent of the homes where mosquitoes are breeding in their backyards," said Lemire.
According to Al Jazeera America, FDOH and MCMC began visiting homes in the Rio and Jensen Beach area on Friday to communicate with residents in person about the events.
“This important door to door effort will be conducted for approximately a week in order to provide prevention information, a risk assessment survey and with the resident’s consent, draw blood for dengue testing,” said Karlette Peck, a health officer at FDOH in Martin County, in a press statement.
FDOH highlighted the importance of draining standing water around homes to prevent mosquitos from multiplying and discarding unused items that might gather water.
“This is an old Florida lifestyle, and I think people are used to the heat and sitting on their porches. Mosquitoes don’t bother them like it does visitors,” Lemire said to Al Jazeera America. “We need the people to wear long pants and sleeves, use repellent and empty containers with water to get a handle on this.”