Mind and Body

Health Officials Confirm Case of Dengue Fever in Florida

Health officials confirmed a case of dengue fever in Miami-Dade County.

The Miami-Dade Health Department's chief epidemiologist says the county hasn't had a locally acquired case since the 1950s. Dengue fever (DENV) is a mosquito-borne virus.

The person diagnosed with dengue fever is described as a man who had not traveled outside the county for more than two weeks. The man was briefly hospitalized but has fully recovered.

Health officials said they don't know where the man got the disease. It was a different strain from the one that has caused locally acquired cases in Key West and one in Broward County.

As many as 100 million people are infected by it each year, but we rarely hear about dengue fever in the United States because it mostly occurs in the tropics and subtropics.

Dr. Andrew Gotlin, medical director of the Ryan Chelsea Clinton Community Health Center in New York City, told FoxNews.com that although forms of dengue infection can be dangerous, it shouldn’t start a panic for Florida residents.

Symptoms of DENV include a high fever, severe headache and pain behind the eyes, joint, muscle and bone pain, rash and bleeding of the nose and gums.

When bitten by a mosquito carrying dengue, Gotlin said there can be a few outcomes. The body may not have any reaction, but another possibility is contracting dengue fever and experiencing a more severe reaction.

“It could also lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is more serious; resulting in low blood pressure, reparatory problems, the patient needs to be hospitalized and managed. Dengue hemorrhagic fever can be fatal,” Gotlin said. “How sick the person gets with the fever really depends on how healthy the human is, how strong their immune system is. Most don’t get hemorrhagic fever, it is very rare.”

According to the CDC, more than one-third of the world is living in areas at risk for dengue infection and it is a leading cause of death in the tropics and subtropics. Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent DENV. The CDC recommends that the best prevention is to avoid mosquito bites, and to seek medical attention early at any signs of the virus.

“In Puerto Rico, only five deaths have been reported since January and the infection rate is 74 cases per 100,000 people, so in Puerto Rico you have a .07 percent chance to get it,” Gotlin said.

To avoid mosquitoes, eliminate places that water is stagnant, like vases and pet water dishes. Experts also recommend keeping screens in your windows at all times to keep the insects from getting into your house.

When outside, the CDC recommends wearing insect repellent with DEET as the main active ingredient.

The Associated Press and FoxNews.com's Colleen Cappon contributed to this report.