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First case of local Dengue Fever in Miami

According to the Florida Health Department a Miami woman who developed Dengue Fever (DF) represents the first confirmed case of locally acquired disease. As a result, health officials are warning the community to take appropriate precautions to prevent infection.

Spread by infected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that tend to bite their victim during the day rather than at night, the incubation period for DF is between 3 and 14 days.

Symptoms include sudden onset of very high fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, backache, joint pains and a body rash. The pain can be so excruciating to the joints that the fever is sometimes called "breakbone" or "bonecrusher" fever.

The good news is that most DF cases are self-limited and can be treated with bed rest, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and oral fluids.

However, a small number of patients go on to develop dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), with signs and symptoms that include a resolving fever or a recent history of fever lasting 2–7 days, any evidence of bleeding, a very low platelet count (less than 100,000/mm3). DHF can result in circulatory instability, shock and death. The risk for these complications is higher if the person has had a previous dengue infection. Adequate management generally requires timely hospitalization.

About 25,000 people die from the disease, according to the CDC.

Most cases of DF show up in Florida after residents have traveled to tropical and subtropical areas of the world like the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, Southern China, and certain parts of Central and South America and the Caribbean, where the disease is endemic.

From 1977 to 2004, there were almost 4000 suspected cases in the US that had been imported from outside the country.

Unfortunately, in recent years the mosquitoes that cause DF have become firmly established in Florida, especially in areas with deteriorated housing, inadequate sanitation and poor drainage.

According to the CDC, the Aedes aegypti mosquito that spreads DF disease is now found throughout central and southern US.

In 2009, a Key West outbreak affected at least 26 people. Until then, no cases of DF had been seen in Florida for 40 years.

The 50 year old woman in Miami who was diagnosed with DF had not traveled in the past months prior to her getting sick. The cause of her illness was confirmed by laboratory tests. Fortunately she did not require hospitalization and has completely recovered.

The same mosquito that causes DF can also carry the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), which has similar symptoms as Dengue. So far 66 cases have been confirmed in Florida although none of these patients were locally infected. All had traveled to the Caribbean.

Because there is still no vaccine to prevent infection with DF the most effective protective measures are those that avoid conditions which may promote mosquito bites.

The CDC recommends that everyone in South Florida use mosquito repellant when outdoors, and wear long sleeves and pants when possible.

Large amounts of rainfall can turn many areas around the home into breeding grounds for mosquitoes. So be sure to drain water from any containers where rainwater has collected including garbage cans, buckets, pool covers, boat tarps and flowerpots.

Remember to empty and clean pet’s water bowls and birdbaths at least once a week.

Add appropriate amounts of chlorine to concrete and plastic swimming pools. Empty plastic pools when not in use.

To prevent mosquitoes from entering the house, keep screens on windows, doors, porches and patios.

For more information:

-If you have a mosquito problem in your home or your neighborhood, call 311 and Mosquito Control will be sent out.

- How to eliminate mosquitoes around the home

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