ATLANTA, July 14 (UPI) — U.S. health officials say an estimated 5 percent of the population of Key West, Fla., showed evidence of recent exposure to dengue virus in 2009.
Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health conducted a study after three initial cases of dengue were reported in 2009.
No cases of dengue were reported in the continental United States from 1946 to 1980 and Florida had not reported an outbreak since 1934, the report said.
“We’re concerned that if dengue gains a foothold in Key West, it will travel to other southern cities where the mosquito that transmits dengue is present, like Miami,” Harold Margolis, chief of the dengue branch at CDC, says in a statement. “The mosquito that transmits dengue likes to bite in and around houses, during the day and at night when the lights are on. To protect you and your family, CDC recommends using repellent on your skin while indoors or out. And when possible, wear long sleeves and pants for additional protection.”
Dengue is the most common virus transmitted by mosquitoes worldwide and causes some 50 million to 100 million infections and 25,000 deaths each year, the report says.
Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.