Health Care

Fourth local dengue fever case confirmed in Miami-Dade; first case found in Broward

Health officials have confirmed the fourth and fifth locally acquired cases of dengue fever in Florida — with all five originating in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Miami-Dade County is under a “mosquito-borne illness alert” following an announcement Friday from the Florida Department of Health announcing the county’s fourth local transmission of the disease. Miami-Dade is the only Florida county under such an alert, according to the most recent data from the health department.

The designation was announced Aug. 23 after the confirmation of Dade’s third locally transmitted dengue case.

Also on Friday, health officials announced the first case of 2019 to come outside Miami-Dade, in neighboring Broward County. Broward is not among the 11 counties under mosquito-borne illness advisories, according to health department data.

Local officials in Broward on Friday warned of a “heightened concern about additional residents becoming ill.”

The cases do not appear to be related, health officials said.

Dengue fever can be contracted from the bite of an Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads chikungunya virus and Zika virus, according to health officials.

While most people infected with dengue have mild or no symptoms, those who do exhibit symptoms can expect to feel them after about a week, according to the Department of Health.

Common symptoms include headache; eye pain; muscle, joint or bone pain; rash; nausea and vomiting; and unusual bleeding or bruising. Severe cases of the disease can lead to shock, internal bleeding or death.

Those who feel one or more of these symptoms should seek medical attention, health officials advise.

Broward’s health department and mosquito-control division will continue surveillance and prevention efforts, the Florida Department of Health said. Health officials in Miami-Dade advise the public to prevent mosquito breeding by draining standing water and covering visible skin with clothing or repellent.

Dengue fever is the most prevalent mosquito-borne ailment in Florida this year, with 154 travel-related cases and five local cases, according to state health department data.

Of those cases, 93 came from visitors to Cuba. Eighty-seven of the total cases were reported in Miami-Dade.

There have been no local cases of chikungunya virus or Zika virus in 2019, but a total of 38 travel-related cases. Zika virus accounted for 33 of the cases, and chikungunya for five.

The primary countries where Zika transmissions occurred were Haiti (9), Cuba (6) and Guatemala (5). Chikungunya transmissions were detected in visitors to Brazil, Haiti, India and Thailand.

To combat the rise of mosquito-borne transmissions, a British biotech company is seeking an experimental-use permit to release genetically modified mosquitoes to kill the Aedes aegypti species in the Florida Keys.

PRECAUTION TIPS

“Drain and cover,” the health department says. It’s going to keep raining — it’s South Florida and summer — so drain water from garbage cans and lids, gutters and planters and flower pots around the yard. This will give mosquitoes fewer places to breed.

Get rid of old tires, drums, bottles and other broken appliances you might have out in the yard.

Don’t overlook boats on trailers. They gather water. Also splash the water off pool covers so there are fewer tempting puddles of water.

Cover up. Wear long sleeves, shoes and socks and long pants when outdoors. We know it’s hot.

Spray it on. Use repellents with DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (except on children 3 and younger; check precautions first), para-menthane-diol, and IR3535.

For more information, visit the health department website.

Martin Vassolo covers the politics and government of Miami Beach for the Miami Herald. He began working for the Herald in January 2018 after attending the University of Florida, where he served as the editor-in-chief of The Independent Florida Alligator. Previously, he was a general assignment reporter on the Herald’s metro desk and a political reporting intern.
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