Press ESC to close

Health Officials Issue Dengue Fever Alert in Florida Keys

Health authorities in the Florida Keys have issued an alert following the confirmation of two locally acquired cases of dengue fever. The Florida Department of Health in Monroe County reported the cases on Saturday, prompting immediate action to prevent further spread of the mosquito-borne illness.

The alert comes in the wake of a broader warning from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about an increased risk of dengue infections across the United States this year. The CDC has reported a significant rise in dengue cases globally, with over 9.7 million cases documented in Latin American countries alone in 2024, more than double the number reported in 2023.

Dengue fever, transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, can cause severe symptoms such as high fever, headaches, body aches, nausea, and rash. In severe cases, it can lead to shock, internal bleeding, and even death. “Approximately 1 in 4 individuals infected with the dengue virus will fall ill, with symptoms varying from mild to severe,” the CDC noted. Severe dengue affects about 1 in 20 people, presenting a medical emergency.

The Florida Keys Mosquito Control District has activated its mosquito-borne disease response plan, intensifying control operations in Key Largo and Upper Matecumbe Key. Measures include door-to-door inspections, immediate treatment of any adult or larval mosquitoes found, and truck and aerial larvicide and adulticide treatments throughout the affected areas. “Public awareness is crucial in combating mosquito-borne diseases,” emphasized Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease expert at Florida International University.

Residents are urged to take preventive measures such as eliminating standing water where mosquitoes can breed, using mosquito repellents containing DEET, and wearing long-sleeved clothing. “Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flowerpots, or any other containers where sprinkler or rainwater has collected,” health officials advised. Additionally, they recommend covering doors and windows with screens to keep mosquitoes out of homes.

The two confirmed cases in the Florida Keys are part of a larger trend in the state, with 91 cases reported in Miami-Dade County, 30 in Broward County, and 13 in Palm Beach County so far in 2024. Most cases in the U.S. have been linked to travel to higher-risk locations, but the recent cases in Florida were acquired locally.

The World Health Organization declared a global emergency in December, and Puerto Rico declared a public health emergency in March due to the surge in dengue cases. The CDC has highlighted that while dengue remains less common in the continental United States, the number of cases this year is three times higher than at the same point last year.

Health officials continue to monitor the situation closely and urge the public to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to prevent mosquito bites and reduce the risk of dengue fever.