Florida reports increase in dengue fever infections

Officials with the Florida Department of Health have confirmed an increase in the number of cases of dengue fever in the Key West area.

The latest statistics released by the department show that 24 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Key West through mid-July, CNNHealth reports. Of those, 18 victims are Key West residents, five reside in other Florida counties and one was a visitor from out of state.

Additionally, 49 “imported” cases of dengue fever have also been reported. Florida health officials define these cases as those where people traveled to areas under a dengue endemic, like the Caribbean or South or Central America.

Harold Margolis, chief of the dengue branch of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, told CNNHealth that the last time there was a dengue outbreak in Florida was in 1934.

“We are concerned that if dengue gains a foothold in Key West, it will travel to other southern cities like Miami,” Margolis said, CNNHealth reports.

Dengue is acquired through the bite of certain species of mosquitoes, including Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus,which are both present in Florida.

CDC officials say that dengue fever symptoms appear three to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito. The symptoms include sudden onset of fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle, joint and bone pain, and bleeding.

Dengue fever symptoms generally last four to seven days, health officials say.

Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a rare but more severe form of dengue infection that can be fatal if not recognized and treated.