With multiple Pacific nations as well as the state of Hawaii struggling with dengue fever outbreaks, good news has recently arrived when Mexican authorities announced their approval of a vaccine against the deadly mosquito-borne illness.
Following suit, more governments are expected to join in their approval of the vaccine (which is called Dengvaxia) in order to combat the disease’s recent surge. However, the drug is no silver bullet for dengue control as its effectiveness can range from 60% to 90% depending upon the virus strain. Nonetheless, it is certainly a welcomed tool that will help protect citizens in conjunction with other mosquito control methods.
This latest, and rapidly mysterious spread of dengue fever acts as a reminder of the dangers that mosquitoes can pose, even in the United States. While Hawaii is in the midst of a historic dengue outbreak, cases were also reported in Florida this past fall.
Here’s what you should know:
A cause of any four unique viruses, dengue infects up to (approximately) 400 million people every year, by recent estimates and can be fatal to humans. Symptoms of the disease include headaches, bleeding around the gums, pain throughout the body and fever (some as high as 106 degrees).
While cases in the United States have been limited thus far, largely due to thoughtful mosquito control efforts, many parts of the developing world are struggling to manage their own mosquito populations and to treat those who have been infected.
Dengue Fever in the U.S.
India suffered a major dengue outbreak in 2015, which saw more than 10,000 reported cases as well as a death toll that reached 32. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reported in 2015 that almost 30,000 cases of the dengue fever had already been diagnosed.
In the U.S., Hawaii is in the midst of a dengue outbreak of their own. In 2015, more than 150 known cases had been reported on Hawaii Island, which prompted state officials to step up their mosquito control efforts and warn residents (as well as visitors) to wear some sort of protective clothing.
Zika and Others Lurk
While scientists are still scrambling to understand dengue fever, it’s far from the only mosquito-borne disease that poses a risk. These pests also carry West Nile, chikungunya and Malaria.
You can’t forget Zika Virus either; the mosquito-borne illness has been wreaking havoc in major U.S. cities like Atlanta and Miami this past year. The disease itself is known to cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, body aches, rash and fatigue.
While these mosquito-borne diseases continue to make headlines, the CDC has offered a few precautionary measures to take into consideration. These include:
- Getting vaccinated (when applicable)
- Avoiding travel to areas where known outbreaks have occured..
- Educating yourself on peak exposure places and times.
- Wearing protective clothing to cover up your skin (when applicable)
As quickly as officials and drug makers attempt to discover new ways to prevent or treat these mysterious mosquito-borne diseases, they aren’t going away anytime soon. However, taking the necessary precautions — which include staying informed and instilling the proper mosquito control methods for your own home — will always be the most ideal way to prevent these illnesses from affecting your life.