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Dengue Fever in Florida Keys, CDC Reports

Dengue Fever CDC

Dengue fever is back in Key West, Florida, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Wednesday.

In a study published in the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, authors identified Key West, Florida as ground zero for transmission of dengue in the U.S..

After a 60-year break, the disease is back. During a recent outbreak, the people infected in Florida didn't catch the virus from somewhere else, but rather got a strain that's unique to the Key West, virologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report Wednesday in the journal Emerging Infectious Disease.

A survey done by the CDC, looked at 93 dengue cases diagnosed in Florida in 2009 and 2010 and found that about 5 percent of the Key West people had been exposed to the virus, and at least 13 people got sick. In 2010, the cases grew to 63, and none of those infected with the disease had traveled to places outside the U.S. where the virus typically is found.

Researchers found that the Key West strain differed from those cases in which the patient had recently traveled. "Findings indicate endemic transmission of (dengue virus) into the continental United States," the study's authors wrote.

Dengue Fever currently threatens nearly three billion people worldwide. "People generally think of dengue as a disease of poor countries; the fact that we found it to be a major burden in a US territory — and because it recently has cropped up on the US mainland — is a reminder that mosquito-borne illnesses can present an equal opportunity threat," said Donald Shepard, PhD, a co-author of the paper.

Dengue, which is commonly spread through the bite of a female Aedes aegypti mosquito, causes flu-like symptoms. Severe cases, particularly in infants, can be fatal.

Dengue is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease and is known as the "break-bone fever" because of the excruciating pain it causes in muscle and joints making then feel like they are breaking.

There's no vaccine or cure for Dengue fever, although the disease is rarely fatal.

Dengue fever begins with a sudden high fever, often as high as 104 - 105 degrees Fahrenheit, 4 to 7 days after the infection.

A flat, red rash may appear over most of the body 2 - 5 days after the fever starts. A second rash, which looks like the measles, appears later in the disease. Infected people may have increased skin sensitivity and are very uncomfortable.

Dengue Fever symptoms include:

•Headache (especially behind the eyes)
•Joint aches
•Muscle aches
•Swollen lymph nodes

Transmission can be greatly reduced by the use of air conditioning and screens on windows as well as statewide mosquito control efforts.

Health Officials Say Dengue Fever Could Spread

The Palm Beach County Health Department says there's "a good likelihood" that confirmed cases of dengue fever in Key West could spread north.

Dengue Fever In Florida Keys

Potentially fatal disease usually only seen in the Tropics shows up in Florida.

Dengue Fever Showing Up In Central Florida

Dengue fever has infected a handful of people in Central Florida, health officials said.

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