Dengue fever reported in Broward County, Florida

Florida health officials this week confirmed the first case of dengue fever has been reported in Broward County.

Broward County Health Department officials did not disclose the name of the victim or the community they lived in but did note that the individual had not left Broward County for several weeks following the onset of the virus, Sun-Sentinel.com reports.

This makes Broward County the second place in the United States, behind Key West, where the virus has emerged, and marks the first time since before World War II that dengue fever has appeared in Broward County.

Dr. Paula Thaqi, Broward County health department director, told Sun-Sentinel.com that the individual has fully recovered, but noted this was an important opportunity for health care workers to emphasize the importance of preventing mosquito borne diseases.

Approximately 53 cases of dengue fever have been reported in Key West since last September.

Carina Blackmore, a mosquito disease specialist at the state Department of Health, told Sun-Sentinel.com that she is certain the Broward County case is not related to the Key West cases.

Blackmore said the local mosquito likely got the virus by biting someone in Broward who had contracted dengue fever while traveling in the Caribbean, South America or a country where the disease is prevalent.

Blackmore said she is certain of this because the Broward County victim caught the type-3 strain of dengue. She noted the strain circulating in Key West is called type-1, so the new case could not be related to Key West.

”I'm not surprised this has shown up there,” Blackmore told Sun-Sentinel.com. “South Florida has a lot of travelers to Central America and the Caribbean. Plenty of people bring back dengue fever to Florida every year. It just doesn't happen very often, so it goes undetected. Because of our increased surveillance now from the Key West cases, we're now picking it up.”

Blackmore said the mosquito responsible is likely the Aedes aegypti, a small black mosquito with white marks on its legs and belly.

Health officials recommend the usual methods for trying to prevent the continued spread of dengue fever, which includes eliminating standing water from pots and bird baths and using mosquito repellents that contain DEET.