Palm Beach County, Florida, confirms first dengue fever case

Palm Beach County, Florida, recently confirmed its first case of dengue fever, an illness common in the Caribbean, but now moving farther north.

Public health officials issued a mosquito-borne illness advisory for the area and have warned residents to take appropriate measures, including eliminating standing water near homes and wearing insect repellent containing DEET, according to

"It's definitely here, and people need to heed the advice and look around their homes, and do everything possible to prevent themselves from getting it," health department spokesman Tim O'Connor said, reports.

The case was initially found at the end of September, when a Palm Beach County resident fell ill with flu-like symptoms. When the patient did not recover after four days, the patient was sent to a local hospital where tests for dengue came back positive. The results were then confirmed by the state health lab.

Dengue fever can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms tend to be similar to influenza, but more uncommon strains can be extremely dangerous and cause death, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Locally acquired dengue has appeared in other areas in Florida, including Martin and Miami-Dade counties. Doctors and hospitals have been alerted to its existence and have been warned to watch for it.

"We sent a notice out to all clinicians in September to consider this as a diagnosis after the case in Martin County surfaced," O'Connor said, reports. "We will send another notice today."