TUESDAY, JUNE 19, 2018

Dengue fever returns to U.S.

After a 65-year absence, dengue fever has returned to the United States, according to a report by newscientist.com.

Officials with the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week that the mosquito-borne virus has been identified in 28 people from Key West.

Christopher Gregory, of the CDC’s dengue branch in San Juan, Puerto Rico, told newscientist.com that the 28 confirmed cases, after such a prolonged absence in the U.S., are a cause for concern.

“We don’t know for sure that this hasn’t happened before without being noticed,” Gregory told newscientist.com. “It could be the tip of the iceberg.”

Gregory noted that cases resolve themselves after flu-like symptoms, adding that there are several explanations for the sudden and dramatic rise in cases.

One theory, he said, is that there has been a significant rise in travel between the U.S. and the Caribbean and South and Central America –  areas that have collectively seen around five million cases of dengue between 2000 and 2007. Another theory, Gregory told newscientist.com, is that infected mosquitoes may be migrating northward due to global warming.

Dan Epstein, of the Pan American Health Organization, told newscientist.com that he is concerned that the above theories could potentially could lead to outbreaks of dengue haemorrhagic fever, the most lethal form of the disease, which is present in South America.

Gregory said he is more concerned about the possible spread of chikungunya, an incurable mosquito-borne virus that causes debilitating, arthritis-like symptoms.