What is it?
Dengue Fever is one variation of the four closely related dengue viruses that is a painful mosquito-borne disease. It is related to viruses that cause West Nile infection and Yellow Fever. Dengue fever is spread by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes.
Where is Dengue Fever most common?
Most cases in the U.S. occur in individuals who got the infection while traveling outside the United States. However, there have been confirmed local transmission cases in Miami and in Hillsborough County, Florida. In 2013, outbreaks started in Brownsville, Texas and Key West Florida. This can be due to these states being so close to the Caribbean.
Symptoms usually start to occur 4-6 days after being infected and can last up to 10 days. Symptoms can include a sudden, high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, fatigue, nausea/vomiting, skin rash (appears 2-5 days after onset fever), and mild bleeding (i.e. nosebleed, gums bleeding, easily bruising). Having any of the symptoms listed above and a travel history in countries where Dengue Fever is common leads to a healthcare provider to suspect Dengue Fever. Doctors can diagnose with a blood test.
Is there treatment?
There is not a specific medicine that treats Dengue Fever. Using pain relievers with acetaminophen and avoiding medicines with aspirin, which could worsen bleeding, is instructed. Along with taking pain relievers with acetaminophen, resting as well as drinking plenty of fluids is also encouraged.
What can I do to prevent Dengue Fever?
There is one FDA approved vaccine as of 2019 called Dengvaxia. This vaccine helps prevent Dengue from reoccurring in 9-16 year olds who have already been infected with Dengue. Unfortunately, there is currently not a vaccine or another type of prevention for the general public, but there are other remedies that people can do to help prevent getting bit by an infected mosquito.
- Use mosquito repellents (even inside)
- Outdoors: wear long-sleeve shirts and long pants that can be tucked into socks
- Indoors: Use air conditioning when available
- Ensure windows and screen doors are secure and free of holes or rips
Words from our expert, Dr. McKenzie
Dengue Virus is a serious disease that is more common in the United States and the Americas than most people realize. In the US, we have hundreds of travel related cases of Dengue Fever as well as some more critical Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, each year. This year marked an “outbreak” year for Florida with multiple cases of locally transmitted cases in Miami-Dade County as well as Hillsborough County. The virus is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, both of which are more active during the day and use artificial as well as natural containers as larval habitats.
Remember mosquito season isn’t over because it’s fall. Mosquito season is only over once we are seeing freezing temperatures. So if you have to go out at dusk or dawn make sure that you are using EPA registered/CDC recommended repellents. Around your home remove or refresh larval habitats (i.e. empty containers and bird baths) and if possible, wear long sleeves and long pants. Adding a Flying Insect trap to your mosquito control strategy can help protect you and your family by collecting mosquitoes that are in your yard.