After a handful of cases were confirmed in Key West, South Florida health agencies are being warned to be on the lookout for people who might be carrying dengue fever. According to the Health officials, last august they launched the study of antibodies after three dengue cases surfaced in Key West. A flu-like illness, Dengue fever is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no treatment for it and no way to prevent it from spreading.
The Centers for Disease Control and the Florida Department of Health warned in a recent report, “dengue fever, a mosquito-borne illness that has severe but rarely fatal symptoms, has shown up in Key West and could spread further up into Florida.” “About 5 percent of Key West residents or about 1,000 people were exposed to the dengue virus in 2009, and, so far this year, there have been 12 confirmed cases of dengue in the Key West area,” according to the report of CNN.
Since 2009, doctors have identified 39 cases of Dengue fever in Key West and according to the local officials the mosquito carries Dengue fever is in Palm Beach County, but no cases of Dengue fever have been reported so far. Donna Ross said, “we were in bed probably a good week. Maybe even more. It was a long time. High fevers, achy, achy, as though you had the flu. That’s the best way to describe it.” Officials said, “39 residents and visitors have come down with the mosquito-borne disease.”
240 homes were tested and only 5 percent were found with active dengue or dengue antibodies as the first locally acquired cases in the state in four decades. cases In Palm Beach County, there have been no reported cases but according to the officials there is always the fear it could spread. Tim O’Connor with the Palm Beach County Health Department said, “We’ve been tracking this for a number of years….so we’re contacting physicians to let them know to consider a diagnosis.”
A family of viruses, Flaviviridae is the cause of Dengue fever disease and spread by mosquitoes. O’nyong-nyong fever, Dengue-like disease, Breakbone fever are its alternative names. It happens extensively in the tropics, containing northern Argentina, Bangladesh, northern Australia, Barbados, Bolivia, Cambodia, Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Jamaica, Laos, Malaysia, Melanesia, Mexico, Micronesia, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Thailand, Samoa, Sri Lanka, Western Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Suriname, Taiwan, Trinidad, Venezuela and Vietnam, and increasingly in southern China.
Dengue is just as prevailing in the urban districts of its range as in rural areas unlike malaria. Every serotype is adequately diverse that there is no cross-protection and pandemic caused by multiple serotypes (hyperendemicity) can occur. The Aedes aegypti or more rarely the Aedes albopictus mosquito, both of which feed exclusively during daylight hours transmit Dengue to humans. According to WHO, “some 2.5 billion people, two fifths of the world’s population, are now at risk from dengue and estimates that there may be 50 million cases of dengue infection worldwide every year.”
Dengue virus (DENV), a mosquito-borne flavivirus is the cause of Dengue fever. DENV is an ssRNA positive-strand virus of the family Flaviviridae, genus Flavivirus. DENV is of four serotypes. The virus has a genome of about 11000 bases that codes for three structural proteins, C, prM, E; seven nonstructural proteins, NS1, NS2a, NS2b, NS3, NS4a, NS4b, NS5; and short non-coding regions on both the 5′ and 3′ ends. The bite of mosquitoes, most commonly the mosquito Aedes aegypti, which is found in tropic and sub-tropic regions spread Dengue fever.
Causes of Dengue Fever:
- Lack of effective methods to control epidemics
- Increase in non-biodegradable plastic packaging and discarded tires
- Increased jet air travel is helping people infected with dengue viruses to move easily from city to city
- Poor Public health systems
- Rapid growth or Overcrowding of cities in tropical countries
- Urban decay, and substandard sanitation, allowing more mosquitoes to live closer to more people.
- Lack of effective mosquito control efforts
Symptoms of Dengue Fever:
Classic dengue fever is characterized by
Sudden and abrupt onset May go up to 39.5-41.4°C Lasts for about 1-7 days, then fades away for 1-2 days. It soon recurs with secondary rashes which is usually not as severe as before
Fever is usually accompanied by headache in front portion of head or behind the eyes
Muscular (Myalgia) or bone pain:
- Occurs after onset of fever
- Pain is usually absent in DHF/DSS
- Affects legs, joints, and lumbar spine
- The pain may last for several weeks even after the fever has subsided
- Usually the pain gets severe after its onset
- Increased sensation to touch
- Change in taste sensation
- Nausea and vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Flushed face
- Increase in temperature, a rash, and a headache.
- The rash consists of small red bumps that begin on the arms and legs, but then spread to the back, abdomen, and chest
- Lower back pain and general weakness
- Red eyes and eye pain
- Severe joint and muscle pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Soles of the feet and palms of the hands also turn red and swell.
Symptoms may be milder in children than in adults. The acute phase of illness can last for 1 week followed by a 1 to 2 week period of recovery period that is characterized by weakness, malaise and loss of appetite.
Diagnosis of Dengue Fever:
On the basis of clinical symptoms and blood test, diagnosis is made. For this illness, treatment is only the earlier detection.
Treatments of Dengue Fever:
- Dengue fever is generally a self-limited illness, so only supportive care is necessary. To treat patients with symptomatic fever, Paracetamol may be used.
- To prevent dehydration, keep up oral intake, especially of oral fluids and/or, oral rehydration salts.
- Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g. ibuprofen, diclofenac) and corticosteroids should be avoided.
- Platelet count in the blood goes down during Dengue. Since medicines like aspirin reduce platelet count, they should be avoided.
- If symptoms of Dengue hemorrhagic fever are seen, then immediately report to your doctor or visit to the hospital for treatment.
There is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it because dengue is caused by a virus. The treatment is purely concerned with relief of the symptoms for typical dengue. For adequate hydration, rest and fluid intake is important.
Preventions of Dengue Fever:
At present, combat the mosquitoes is the only method of controlling or preventing dengue and DHF. Aedes aegypti breeds primarily in man-made containers like metal drums, earthenware jars, and concrete cisterns utilized for domestic water storage, as well as discarded plastic food containers, used automobile tyres and other items that collect rainwater. Discard or dry these items.
- Avoid heavily populated residential areas
- Sleeping area should have mosquito netting over the bed
- Avoid mosquito bite even during day time
- Stay in well-screened areas
- Use long clothes to cover the body to avoid mosquito bite
- Use mosquito repellents on skin and clothing
- Discard items that can collect rain or run-off water, especially old tires
- Eliminate mosquito breeding sites around homes
- Regularly change the water in outdoor bird baths and pet and animal water containers
- When outdoors during times that mosquitoes are biting, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks
- When indoors, stay in air-conditioned or screened areas. Use bednets if sleeping areas are not screened or air-conditioned