Dengue fever reported in South Florida - WFLA News Channel 8

Dengue fever reported in South Florida

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Mosquitos can spread dengue fever Mosquitos can spread dengue fever
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

Florida health officials are trying to stop a painful disease from spreading throughout the state.

It's called Dengue fever.

Experts say it's very rare to see cases of this in the United States, and yet there have been at least 8 reported infections in Florida.

At this time, Hillsborough County health officials say there have been no reported cases throughout the Tampa Bay area, but that doesn't mean we should let our guard down.

Dengue fever is very painful and there are no treatments available.

These tiny mosquitoes may be small, but they can create a big problem.

Over the past few weeks, there have been reports of dengue fever spread by mosquitoes in south Florida.

Officials say it's strange because the disease was largely eliminated in the US in the 20th century.

Dr. Carlos Fernandes works with Hillsborough County Mosquito Control, and he says Dengue fever is not something you'd ever want. 

Dr. Fernandes said, "The symptoms are mainly fever that makes your body ache on every single inch of your body."

The CDC says people who contract dengue fever suffer from a high fever and other symptoms including:

-Severe headache
-Severe eye pain (behind eyes)
-Joint pain
-Muscle and/or bone pain
-Rash
-Mild bleeding manifestation (e.g., nose or gum bleed, petechiae, or easy bruising)
-Low white cell count

And the Florida Department of Health says there have been at least eight reported cases over the past month. Five in Martin County, two in St. Lucie County, and one in Miami-Dade County.

Officials say people likely caught the disease overseas and brought it over here.

Dr. Fernandes said, "That's the danger of Dengue...because it can definitely quickly become an epidemic."

Hillsborough county health officials say the area could still be at risk.

Steve Huard with the Hillsborough County Health Department said, "The last case that we had of reported Dengue Fever in Hillsborough County was in 2010, and that was an imported case."

So the best defense is a good offense. Officials will continue their regular spraying schedule. And there are also sentinel chickens used throughout the county.

Blood is regularly drawn from the chickens to determine if diseases like dengue fever are spreading.

Huard said, "I think it's really a good time to get in the mindset of you've got to really protect yourself."

To avoid mosquitoes and prevent the spread of disease, officials urge people to drain any standing water, wear long clothing outside and don't forget the mosquito repellant.

Officials are confident that with these preventative measures, we should keep dengue fever at bay.

If you do experience symptoms of this disease, give your doctor a call.

Not only can he prescribe medicine, but he can also warn authorities so they can prevent it from spreading.

It only takes a few small steps to help prevent a big outbreak.

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