Dengue fever is the first in a series of pest alerts focusing on specific arboviral (or arthropod-borne) diseases, as occurrences are more common during the summer months. A general arboviral disease awareness pest alert was distributed on 6/15/13. The Center for Disease Control’s website http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/Arbor/index.htm remains an excellent source for comprehensive information.
Dengue fever is one of the mosquito transmitted arboviral diseases that is particularly common in South and Central America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Asia, and the Pacific Islands. A current map of global distribution of dengue fever can be found at http://www.healthmap.org/dengue/index.php . Although cases of imported Dengue from arriving travelers has been common in Florida, the first reoccurring cases of locally acquired Dengue occurred in the Florida keys during 2009. Previous to 2009, locally acquired cases of Dengue fever virus outbreaks had not occurred in the continental U.S. since the 1930s. During 2012, four cases of locally acquired Dengue occurred in Florida. Currently in 2013, 41 cases of imported Dengue fever virus have been reported from travelers who visited sub-tropical to tropical countries. Dengue fever virus symptoms can be quite severe, and may include a sudden fever, severe headache, shock, rashes, and muscular and joint pain. Although a cure or vaccine for Dengue fever virus does not exist, early diagnosis may allow for the virus to be managed. More severe cases of Dengue fever virus can result in hemorrhages and death.
The June 22, 2013 Florida Department of Health weekly summary report is available at: http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/mosquito-borne-diseases/surveillance.html
The Florida Department of Health Informational Website for Dengue virus is available at: http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/arboviral/Dengue.html .
Additional national websites describing symptoms include: http://www.cdc.gov/Dengue/faqFacts/fact.html and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002349/
Locally acquired cases of the Dengue fever virus is Florida may represent re-introductions of the virus as the number of imported (traveler-based) cases increases. The Asian tiger mosquito and the yellow fever mosquito are commonly found in Florida, and are the primary mosquitoes involved in vectoring the Dengue fever virus. Check out our UF-IFAS Featured Creatures on the Asian tiger mosquito http://entomology.ifas.ufl.edu/creatures/aquatic/asian_tiger.htm and the yellow fever mosquito http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/aquatic/aedes_aegypti.htm for more information. Preventing or reducing exposure to mosquito bites protects you from potentially acquiring any of the arboviral diseases, including Dengue fever. Reducing standing water on your property eliminates breeding grounds for many mosquito species. Also, mosquito bites general increase during dawn and dusk. Insect repellants either applied to your skin or clothing may also protect you from mosquito bites.
The University of Florida, Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory has quite a bit of useful information and extension fact sheet links regarding mosquito issues in Florida http://mosquito.ifas.ufl.edu/Fact_Sheets.htm .
The Florida Department of Health also provides a good reference for prevention of mosquito borne disease prevention at: http://www.doh.state.fl.us/Environment/medicine/arboviral/Prevention.html .
Please be safe and continue to practice good disease prevention as you enjoy the many outdoor activities that Florida has to offer!