South Florida health officials are urging residents to take precautions after confirming a case of mosquito-borne dengue in Miami-Dade County.
The Florida Department of Health in Miami-Dade said there is a “heightened concern of additional residents becoming ill.” As the peak of the storm and rainy season approaches in September, health officials are also reminding people to take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes — including the draining of any standing water on properties, clearing debris and covering the skin with proper insect repellent and clothing (see tips below).
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease that occurs in tropical and subtropical areas. Symptoms of dengue fever include severe headache (mostly behind the eyes), high fever, rash and severe muscle and joint pain. Although rare, severe cases can be life-threatening.
“Dengue is commonly known as ‘breakbone disease’ because you get such sever muscle aches and pains with dengue,” says Sergio Segarra, M.D. , chief medical officer at Baptist Hospital of Miami . “A few days later, you’ll develop a fever.”
Several of the mosquito species found in Florida are capable of transmitting diseases to humans and some animals. Dengue emerged as a worldwide problem the 1950s. Although dengue rarely occurs in the continental United States, it is endemic in Puerto Rico and in many popular tourist destinations in Latin America, Southeast Asia and the Pacific islands, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“When the sun is setting, that’s when mosquitoes are most active,” says Dr. Segarra. “Wearing protective clothing is the best way to protect against mosquito bites.”
Tips for Protecting Yourself
- Wear socks, shoes, long pants and long sleeves when mosquitoes are active;
- Cover doors, windows, porches and patios with screens and clear gutters;
- Use repellent on bare skin; DEET at 20 to 30 percent concentration works well for most people when used according to label directions; Do not apply to infants
‘Drain and Cover’ Tips
- Drain any standing irrigation or rain water that can collect in garbage cans, house gutters, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or other containers;
- Discard old items that aren’t being used and are storing water;
- Empty and clean birdbaths and pet water bowls once or twice weekly;
- Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water;
- Maintain the water balance (pool chemistry) of swimming pools, and empty plastic swimming pools not in use;
- Check around faucets and air conditioner units, and repair leaks or puddles that remain for several days;
- Remove, drain or fill tree holes and stumps with mortar; Irrigate lawns and gardens carefully to prevent water from standing for several days. Cut down weeds adjacent to home and in yards, and mow the lawn regularly.
For more information to help limit mosquito exposure, click here .