FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Aug. 13 (UPI) — Health officials in Florida’s Broward County say tests have confirmed the first known case of mosquito-borne dengue fever being contracted in the county.
An adult patient who had not been out of the county for weeks came down with the tropical disease this month, officials said Thursday, meaning Broward County is the second place in the continental United States, after Key West, where the disease exists, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.
In Key West, at least 53 cases have been reported since an outbreak there began in September.
But the new Broward case is the first time a person was infected by mosquitoes living in the county, authorities say. The viral disease causes severe headaches, fever, rashes, swollen glands and severe muscle and joint pain, and in some variations of the disease bleeding in the nose and gums, blood in feces and easy bruising, says medicinenet.com.
Health Department officials said the county would step up mosquito spraying and step up its message campaign to prevent bug bites, especially since Florida has already logged a few cases of other mosquito diseases such as West Nile virus.
Carina Blackmore, a mosquito-disease specialist with the Florida Department of Health, 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 another country where the disease is common.
“I’m not surprised this has shown up there,” Blackmore said. “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,” she said.
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