Dengue Fever Cases Reported in Parts of Florida

July 25, 2010 by  
Filed under Trail Boss News

The disease, which is sometimes called “break-bone fever” for the crushing pain it inflicts, has shown up in some parts of the state, including tourist playground Key West. There also have been a handful of confirmed cases in Central Florida, Orlando NBC affiliate WESH reported this week. That’s enough to get health officials worried.

Lawrence Smart, from Miami-Dade Mosquito Control, looks for mosquito larvae in vehicle tires where water has collected so he can eradicate them July 16, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida. The mosquito control has been busy as cases of dengue fever have been found in Key West, Florida as well as a possible case in Miami Beach.

Joe Raedle, Getty Images
Lawrence Smart from Miami-Dade Mosquito Control looks for mosquito larvae in vehicle tires where water has collected so he can eradicate them on July 16 in Miami Beach, Fla. Cases of dengue fever have been found in Key West and other parts of the state.

The disease is spread by mosquitoes, and is widespread in some parts of the Caribbean and Central America.

Health officials say there were 27 cases in Key West last year and 18 so far this year. Unnervingly, none of those victims had recently traveled abroad, meaning they picked up the disease locally, The New York Times reported.

The sun-drenched beaches of Key West have been a battleground over how to respond to the dengue fever scare.

On July 13, the federal Centers for Disease Control issued a report saying that about 5 percent of people in Key West showed some sign of recent exposure to the virus.

The report made this estimation based on a sampling of 240 residents, according to The New York Times.

Some people in Key West were less than pleased that the CDC had used such a small sampling of people to estimate the percentage of residents likely exposed.

“I don’t know if the CDC understands what it potentially has done here,” Andy Newman, the director of media relations for the Florida Keys and the Key West tourism council told The New York Times.

Still, Key West is working to contain the disease, including launching Mosquito TV and leaving out black cups filled with poison to capture and kill mosquito larvae.

Dengue fever was once widespread throughout the Americas. The disease was almost wiped out in the 1960s, thanks to the use of the pesticide DDT against carrier mosquitoes, Health.com reported.

Now that DDT is no longer used, the disease may be making a comeback. It is more often found in the tropics, but there have been outbreaks along the U.S. border with Mexico in the last 30 years.

“I can’t even articulate the crazy pain that you’re in,” Jeanette Potter, who contracted the disease while vacationing in the Sunshine State last year, told Health.com. “My head hurt so bad that I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”  Via AOL

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