Dengue spreads into United States

The U.S. Center for Disease Control is reporting cases of dengue fever resulting from mosquito bites in Key West, Florida.  The illness, which is typically not fatal, is one of the most common of mosquito borne illnesses; the disease is endemic in the Western Hemisphere, typically south of Mexico in Puerto Rico and Latin America.  Sporadic outbreaks have occurred in Guam and Samoa.

Prior diagnoses in the United States have occurred after the patient has returned from a trip into one of these areas.  In 2005, a woman in Brownsville, TX contracted dengue fever, but remained undiagnosed until the illness escalated into dengue shock syndrome.  Following an investigation, 25 cases were discovered in Cameron County, of which Brownsville is the county seat.  The source of the illness was an outbreak of dengue fever in Matamoros, Mexico.  Eventually, 104 people were treated from this area of Mexico.

The difference in the current outbreak is that the source of dengue fever is actually on American soil.  ABC News is reporting that the CDC, in the May 21 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, is emphasizing the importance of a diligent “vector-borne surveillance” system in the coming months.

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