Florida is facing a concerning rise in dengue fever cases, with the southern part of the state being particularly affected. The Florida Health Department has been closely monitoring the increase in cases throughout 2023, and there has been a significant spike observed during week 40. Dengue fever is caused by the dengue virus, which is transmitted through infected mosquitoes and is endemic in approximately 125 countries worldwide.
During week 40, Florida reported a total of 32 new dengue cases, indicating the growing concern. Out of these cases, 17 were travel-associated, meaning individuals contracted the disease while traveling, and 15 were locally acquired, indicating transmission within the state. Miami-Dade County has been the most affected, reporting 47 out of the 53 locally acquired cases in 2023. The increase in locally acquired cases is particularly alarming to health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a total of 1,289 dengue cases in 48 U.S. jurisdictions in 2023. In addition to Florida, New York has also reported a significant number of dengue cases this year, suggesting a broader issue beyond just one state. In the Region of the Americas, approximately 3.4 million dengue cases have been reported so far in 2023, underscoring the widespread nature of the disease.
As of October 11, 2023, there are only two dengue vaccines available worldwide, and only one is licensed for use in the United States. The Dengvaxia® vaccine by Sanofi Pasteur is available for specific individuals following a diagnostic test review, providing a potential tool in the fight against the disease.
Dengue is primarily transmitted through the bites of infected Aedes species mosquitoes, which are also responsible for transmitting other dangerous viruses like Zika and chikungunya. An individual can contract dengue multiple times throughout their life. The symptoms of dengue infection typically last for two to seven days and include fever, rash, nausea, vomiting, and muscle, joint, and bone pain. However, these symptoms are not specific to dengue, making it easy for the disease to be mistaken for other illnesses.
There are currently no specific antiviral treatments for dengue, and management primarily involves relieving symptoms, rest, hydration, and the use of acetaminophen. It is important to avoid aspirin or ibuprofen as they may worsen gastritis or bleeding. Severe dengue, though relatively rare, can occur in about one in 20 cases and can lead to shock, internal bleeding, and even death. Early detection and intervention are crucial in controlling the disease.
The recent surge in dengue cases in Florida brings attention to the challenges posed by this mosquito-borne illness. Between 2010 and 2022, there have been over 33,000 locally acquired cases of dengue in the United States, with the annual case count remaining below 1,000 until 2022. The increase in cases highlights the need for preventive measures to reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, such as regularly draining and cleaning containers that may collect water, wearing protective clothing, and applying insect repellent.
Miami-Dade County continues to face local dengue fever cases, while Sarasota and Manatee counties have seen a decrease in the disease since early September. The Florida Health Department is closely monitoring the situation and aims to contain the outbreak through ongoing monitoring and mosquito control efforts. Public awareness, prevention, and research into effective dengue control strategies are crucial in combating this mosquito-borne threat.