In addition to the continuing spread of the Zika virus in the state, Florida is now contending with new cases of a tropical disease killer.
There are now reports that a second case of locally-transmitted dengue fever has been identified.
Health officials announced on Wednesday that they have detected a case of locally acquired dengue fever in Miami-Dade county, according to the Florida Health Department.
Dengue fever is a viral disease that is mainly spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which also spreads the Zika virus. The virus can cause flu-like symptoms and in rare cases can result in dangerous or deadly infections.
This is the second dengue fever case reported in the state this year, according to the Florida Health Department. One other dengue fever case was reported in Key West in June. That island battled an outbreak of dengue fever from 2009 to 2010.
Readers will recall that our report on the state of Hawaii declaring a “dengue fever emergency” earlier this year. One of the state’s suffers says it was the most pain she had ever experienced:
It’s battle with the pathogen was not helped by the “green” attitude of some of its citizens.
On Old Ways Farm, organic farmer Steve Mann tends to his herbs with mosquito netting dangling from his straw hat. Neighbors have been infected with dengue, but Mann was concerned about the type of pesticide, Aqua-Reslin, that the state used to combat the outbreak.
“It’s not organic, and that would cancel our certification for a period of three years,” Mann said. “That might well put us out of business.”
Happily, the outbreaks in Hawaii appear to be contained...at least for the time being.
Currently, vector control is the only practical way to prevent the disease. There is only one vaccine for dengue fever currently available, and the newly developed product has only been approved for use in Mexico, the Philippines, and Brazil.
In terms of the battle against Zika, Florida now reports 700 travel-related cases and 115 acquired through local transmission. Health officials urge people to take specific protective measures:
Experts continue to stress that the best way to protect yourself is to wear mosquito repellent, empty large and small standing sources of water around your home, and have protected sex if you’re at a child-bearing age and worried about exposure to Zika.
Congress recently approved over $1 billion to fight Zika. Needless to say, government officials are itching to spend the money.
Most of the newly approved Zika funding, $933 million, is for efforts to control Zika’s spread in the United States. The money will go for mosquito control and surveillance, vaccine development and studies to understand the virus’s impact on the fetus, children and adults. The CDC will receive $394 million, much of which will likely go to localities on the front line.
On October 6th, I will be interviewing a colleague who is a biosafety expert on Canto Talk about the status of the global Zika epidemic. Among the topics that will be covered are the real risks associated with Zika infection and sensible protective measures that can be taken by individuals.
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