Miami Catches First Case of Dengue Fever in 50 Years

aedes aegypti photo

photo: Wikipedia

For the first time in half a century a person in Miami-Dade County, Florida has been diagnosed (and recovered from...) a case of dengue fever that had been acquired locally (Palm Beach Post). This follows 24 cases of locally-caught dengue being discovered in Key West over the summer. Most cases of dengue fever diagnosed in the United States today are in people who have traveled to regions where the disease is endemic--in Key West over the summer, in addition to the 24 local cases, an additional 49 were diagnosed in people who had recently been traveling. In this Miami case, the victim had not left the county in the past two weeks.

Currently, both species of mosquito that transmit dengue (Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus) live in Florida, but the last time there was a significant outbreak of the disease was in the mid-1930s.

dengue fever US map

map: NRDC

The environmental significance of this is that, though it's impossible to link the single case to the expansion of insect-borne diseases due to climate change, it is indicative of things to come.

In 2009, NRDC released a report on the potential spread of dengue in the US. The study showed that the dengue-carrying mosquitos have become established in 28 US states, and will likely become more so as as climate change makes conditions throughout the US south and mid-Atlantic states more hospitable for them. This in turn means greater exposure to the insects and greater risk of contracting the potentially fatal illness.

Currently those case of dengue fever caught locally in the US have been confined to areas along the US-Mexico border, and Hawaii.

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More on Climate Change & Infectious Disease:
Climate Change Already Expanding Tropics, Sub-Tropical Arid Zones and Disease
Climate Change Too Abstract For You? Dengue Fever Could Spread to 28 US States
Key West, Florida Confirms 24 Cases of Dengue Fever

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