For the second time this year, a locally acquired case of dengue has been reported in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
The patients were both women, aged 21 and 66 years. In response to the latest case, the Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County issued an alert this week saying there was a “heightened concern” of more people becoming ill. The first case was reported in March.
Alvaro Mejia-Echeverry, MD, MPH, a medical epidemiologist with the health department, said the likelihood of more cases depends on how closely communities adhere to their own respective control measures, and those of the county.
“We feel that we have a very strong mosquito control program in the county,” he said. “Our sanitation is excellent and the conditions for an outbreak are not given, but sporadic cases may occur and the amount of cases will depend on how much community collaboration is found in this control effort.”
Officials in South Florida reported the second case of locally acquired dengue fever this year. The virus is spread by the bite of infected female mosquitoes, primarily Aedes aegypti.
Source: CDC/James Gathany
According to Mejia-Echeverry, imported dengue cases occur in the area throughout the year and are especially common during the rainy season, but local cases “should translate into awareness that the mosquito that transmits dengue is here.”
He said clinicians treating patients should “think dengue.”
“We want providers to keep the risk of dengue infection in mind, and we want them to help us in the effort to educate the community to protect themselves,” Meija-Echeverry said. “One of the most effective strategies is education directly from providers.”
The state health department and Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control and Habitat Management Division said they will continue surveillance and prevention efforts.
For dengue prevention, the health department created its “Drain and Cover” slogan, which instructs county residents to drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying and to cover skin with clothing or repellent.
Meija-Echeverry said residents also should make sure to cover any holes in window or porch screens. Maintaining and running air conditioning units also is an effective way to keep mosquitoes from entering the home, he said.
Researchers recently predicted that 60% of the world’s population will be at risk for dengue by 2080, due mostly to population growth and increasing urbanization in tropical areas. Currently, experts estimate that 40% of all humans — or about three billion people — are at risk for the mosquito-borne illness, according to the CDC.
According to the Florida health department, the state did not see any cases of locally transmitted dengue between 1934 and 2009. In 2009 and 2010, an outbreak of locally transmitted cases centered in Key West involved 88 people. – by Joe Gramigna
CDC. Dengue. https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/index.html. Accessed August 8, 2019.
Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade County. FDOH in Miami-Dade County issues mosquito-borne illnesses advisory. http://miamidade.floridahealth.gov/newsroom/2019/08/2019-08-06-FDOH-in-Miami-Dade-County-Issues-Mosquito-Borne-Illnesses-Advisory.html. Accessed August 8, 2019.
Florida Department of Health. Dengue fever. http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/dengue/. Accessed August 8, 2019.
Disclosure: Meija-Echeverry is employed by the DOH-Miami-Dade.