Florida Health Advisory: Mosquito-borne virus, dengue, attacking Floridians

07/14/2010 // WPB, FL, USA // Nicole Howley // Nicole Howley

Key West, FL—The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is warning Floridians, especially Key West residents, of a viral disease that is being spread by a mosquito species. Dengue fever has spread to an estimated 5 percent of Key West’s population, leaving many with excruciating headaches and body aches, reports the Palm Beach Post.

A common misquotes species in Palm Beach County, Aedes aegypti, is responsible for spreading the viral disease, dengue. The mosquitoes are daytime biters, usually found near standing water and in urban areas in South Florida. The insect will also bite inside lighted houses, as it prefers to be indoors.

The CDC also recommends people use mosquito repellent both indoors and outside.

The director of Palm Beach County Mosquito Control, Ed Bradford stated, “That’s a very common mosquito. They are difficult to control because it’s impossible to larvicide everybody’s property.”

Dengue is also known as “break-bone fever” because of the severe aches it inflicts on those who become infected. Symptoms of an infection include high fever, pain behind the eyes, joint and bone pain, nausea and vomiting. The symptoms will begin to manifest themselves within four days of being bitten by an infected mosquito, and will usually pass in less than a week. There are other four distinct forms of the virus, which can result in internal and external bleeding.

The CDC took blood samples from 204 Key West households and found that 5 percent tested positive for active dengue or dengue antibodies. The virus was found be to be acquired locally because the tested individuals had not traveled outside of Florida. Thirty-nine cases of dengue have been reported since 2009.

Royal Palm Beach resident, Bonnie Howley was recently diagnosed with dengue after a trip to Costa Rica. “Within a few days of returning from our trip, I was bombarded with agonizing migraines and debilitating body aches. I was shocked when my doctor told me I had dengue. I thought I just was coming down with the flu,” said Howley.

Worldwide, between 50 million and 100 million people become infected with dengue, which causes 25,000 deaths, according to the CDC.

Atlantis infectious disease specialist Dr. Larry Bush said, “The good news is, the majority of people who get it get better. The bad news is there is no drug, no antiviral, no antibiotic.”

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