For the first time in 64 years, there's evidence of a dengue fever outbreak in the continental United States. Last fall, on a tip from a New York resident who came down with the mosquito-spread illness after traveling to Key West, researchers started collecting blood samples from a random selection of residents in the area. They found that 5% of the samples had the dengue fever virus or its antibodies, indicating that about 1,000 Key West residents may well have come into contact with it.
The chief of the dengue branch at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Harold Margolis, issued a statement yesterday, saying, "We're concerned that if dengue gains a foothold in Key West, it will travel to other Southern cities where the mosquito that transmits dengue is present, like Miami."
Symptoms of dengue fever include a sudden high fever of up to 104 or 105 degrees, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, and rash on the torso, arms, legs and face.