Florida officials issue dengue fever alert

Local health officials have issued a dengue fever alert in the Florida Keys after discovering two cases were locally acquired.

The Florida Health Department issued the mosquito-borne illness alert in Monroe County, where officials said there have been two reported cases of locally acquired dengue fever — meaning that those dengue virus infections (DENV) were not associated with any travel.

Dengue viruses are transmitted through bites from mosquitoes typically found in tropical and subtropical climates. With climate change causing increased temperatures across the globe, dengue cases have been on the rise worldwide.

Monroe County includes the islands of the Florida Keys, which are a popular summer tourist destination. State health officials said the Florida Health Department in Monroe County is working with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District to conduct surveillance and prevention efforts in response, including door-to-door mosquito inspections and mosquito treatments.

The alert was issued June 29, just days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned the public of a heightened risk of dengue virus infections in the U.S. this year. CDC data shows 2,241 dengue cases have been reported in the U.S. states and territories so far this year.

The only cases that have been locally acquired in the continental U.S. are in Florida, which has reported six. Puerto Rico has reported 1,484 locally acquired cases, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have reported six.

The other cases in the U.S. have been associated with travel, according to the data.

The CDC said about 1 in 4 people infected with dengue virus will become symptomatic, resulting in mild or severe cases. A mild case can include aches, pains, nausea, vomiting, fever or a rash.

The CDC said about 1 in 20 people will get a severe case of dengue, which is a medical emergency that can result in shock, internal bleeding or death.

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