Dengure fever in Caribbean raises fears of U.S. outbreak

An epidemic of dengue fever that has hit Latin America and the Caribbean has increased the risk of a similar outbreak occurring in South Florida, an expert on the disease has told Reuters.

The proximity of Florida to the affected countries, the ease and size of the migration of people from there to Florida and a similar tropical climate have raised the possibility of an outbreak in the state for the first time in decades, Dr. Douglas Fuller, a bioclimatologist and dengue fever expert, told Reuters. Dr. Fuller is the chair of the Geography and Regional Studies department at the University of Miami’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“I think the risk is substantial," Dr. Fuller told Reuters. "In terms of the basic ingredients, you’ve got everything that you would need for an epidemic. I think we’re on the doorstep."

Dengue fever can cause flu-like symptoms, including muscle and joint pain, fever and headaches. Though less common, it also comes in a hemorrhagic form that causes massive internal bleeding and bleeding from the body’s orifices and can often be fatal.

Since the beginning of the year through June, there have been 17,000 reported cases of dengue in the Caribbean according to the Pan American Health Organization. The outbreak has been blamed on the unusually wet spring that occurred in the region and the high volume of standing water that resulted. Dengue is transmitted by mosquitoes that breed in water.