Dengue fever is making a concerning resurgence in the Americas, with over 3 million cases reported this year and over 882 in the United States alone, marking the second-highest annual rate since 1980, according to the CDC.
This alarming increase in cases is attributed to the favorable conditions for dengue-carrying mosquitoes caused by climate change, which increases temperatures and humidity.
Dengue is transmitted through Aedes mosquitoes, which thrive in hot and humid environments.
The changing climate has created more conducive conditions for these disease-carrying insects, leading to a surge in dengue cases.
Experts view this increase as a warning signal of the broader health impacts of changing rainfall and temperature patterns.
Dengue cases have risen significantly in the United States, from 814 points in 2021 to 2,261 in 2022. More than half of these cases have been locally acquired, particularly in states like California, Florida, Texas, and New York.
The upward trend in patients is expected to continue as climate change and urbanization create ideal breeding grounds for dengue-carrying mosquitoes.
Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease physician and chair of the Infectious Disease Society of the Americas Global Health, expressed concern about the rise in cases.
She noted that climate change, increased vector spread, reduced surveillance due to the allocation of resources to COVID-19 programs, and heightened testing due to overlapping symptoms with COVID-19 have all contributed to the surge in dengue cases.
Despite common misconceptions, the United States is not immune to mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue.
Senior scholar Dr. Amesh Adalja at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security emphasized that mosquito-borne diseases can affect the US population.
Dengue Fever: Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention, and Mosquito Control
Dengue fever is caused by a virus transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, which also carry Zika, chikungunya, and other viruses. Individuals can contract dengue multiple times in their lives.
Symptoms of dengue fever typically appear 4-10 days after a mosquito bite and include headache, high fever, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, and rash.
While most cases are mild and resolve within 1-2 weeks, severe cases can occur, leading to abdominal pain, rapid breathing, bleeding, and weakness.
There is no antiviral treatment for dengue, and care primarily focuses on managing symptoms. Patients receive fluids and pain-reducing medications like acetaminophen.
Aspirin and ibuprofen should be avoided as they can increase the risk of bleeding.
It is recommended to avoid aspirin and ibuprofen as they may increase the chances of experiencing bleeding.
It is recommended to avoid aspirin and ibuprofen as they can potentially increase the risk of bleeding.
A vaccine for dengue is available but approved only for children aged 9-16 with prior laboratory-confirmed dengue infections living in areas where dengue is prevalent, such as certain US territories.
Preventing mosquito bites is the most effective way to avoid dengue infection.
This includes wearing protective clothing, using insect repellents, sleeping under mosquito nets, and using window screens.
Some regions also implement mosquito control measures, including genetically modified mosquitoes approved by the EPA to reduce mosquito populations.
Genetically modified mosquitoes carry a gene that prevents female mosquitoes from reaching adulthood, reducing their reproduction ability.
The EPA has deemed these mosquitoes safe for people, animals, and the environment.
The resurgence of dengue fever underscores the importance of addressing climate change and implementing effective mosquito control measures to protect public health.
Source: ABC News