According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been over 3 million cases of dengue fever reported in the Americas this year, with more than 882 cases in the United States. This marks the second highest annual rate of dengue fever in the Americas since 1980. The increase in cases is attributed to the spread of dengue through mosquitoes, which thrive in hotter temperatures and humid conditions. These conditions have become more frequent due to climate change and extreme weather events.
Experts warn that the rise in dengue cases serves as a warning sign for the future, as changes in rainfall and temperature patterns are expected to lead to further increases in mosquito-borne diseases. The United States has seen a significant increase in locally acquired cases, with the disease circulating in states such as California, Florida, Texas, and New York. These cases have been growing over the past few years and are expected to rise as climate change and urbanization continue.
Dr. Krutika Kuppalli, an infectious disease physician and chair of the Infectious Disease Society of the Americas Global Health, expresses concern over the growing number of cases and emphasizes the need for increased investment in tracking and prevention efforts. Public health officials in the U.S. and around the world have faced challenges in allocating resources, with a focus on managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Contrary to common belief, mosquito-borne illnesses are not exclusive to tropical regions. Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, emphasizes that the United States is not impervious to these diseases. Dengue fever, caused by the Aedes mosquito, can infect individuals multiple times in their life.
Symptoms of dengue fever include headache, high fever, muscle and joint pain, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, and rash. While most cases are mild, severe dengue can occur, leading to severe abdominal pain, rapid breathing, increased thirst, blood in vomit or stool, pale and cold skin, persistent vomiting, blood in gums or nose, and weakness. There is no specific antiviral treatment for dengue, and patients are typically treated with fluids and medications to control pain and reduce fever.
A vaccine for dengue is available for children aged 9-16 with previous laboratory-confirmed dengue infection and who live in areas with frequent dengue activity. Preventing mosquito bites is crucial in reducing the risk of infection. This can be achieved by wearing protective clothing, using insect repellent, using mosquito nets, and using window screens. Some regions also employ measures to control mosquito populations, such as removing breeding grounds and using genetically modified mosquitoes, which have been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency.
In conclusion, the increasing number of dengue fever cases in the Americas, including the United States, highlights the need for greater resources and prevention efforts. Climate change and urbanization are contributing factors to the rise in cases, necessitating proactive measures to track and protect against mosquito-borne diseases.
– Dengue fever: A viral infection transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes, causing symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle and joint pain, and rash.
– Aedes mosquito: A type of mosquito that carries and spreads viruses such as dengue, Zika, and chikungunya.
– Locally acquired cases: Cases of a disease that are transmitted within a specific geographic area, rather than imported from elsewhere.
– Severe dengue: A severe form of dengue fever characterized by abdominal pain, rapid breathing, increased thirst, bleeding, and weakness.
– Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
– World Health Organization (WHO)