According to the CDC, cases of dengue virus are increasing, especially in New Jersey and New York
According to the CDC, cases of dengue virus are increasing, especially in New Jersey and New York

According to the CDC, cases of the dengue virus have increased, particularly in New York and New Jersey.

According to officials, 41 cases of this mosquito-borne disease have been reported in the Garden State.

Pennsylvania has reported 25 cases, while Delaware has reported only four.

There have been more than 2,500 infections in the USA so far. According to official figures, most people became ill while traveling.

What is dengue fever and where does it often occur?

Dengue is a mosquito-borne virus spread primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. According to the CDC, the mosquito is also known to transmit several other viruses, such as yellow fever, chikungunya, and Zika.

According to the WHO, dengue is endemic in over 100 countries with tropical and subtropical climates, predominantly in urban and semi-urban areas.

The species is also endemic to the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and American Samoa.

More than 34,000 locally transmitted cases were reported in the U.S. between 2010 and 2023, CDC data show. Some outbreaks of locally transmitted cases have been reported in states with warmer climates, including Florida, Texas, Hawaii and Arizona. California reported its first locally transmitted case in Pasadena last year.

Yet nearly all cases in the U.S. are reported in Puerto Rico, Dr. Gabriela Paz-Bailey, chief of the dengue section in the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases at the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, previously told CNN. And that’s no surprise.

“The climate is perfect for this. It’s a tropical island,” she said. “The Department of Health and other organizations like the Puerto Rico Vector Control Unit are actually trying to control dengue in the region.”

This includes public education and integrated mosquito management, such as “eliminating places where mosquitoes lay their eggs. This is done through citizen engagement, but also through cleanup operations,” says Paz-Bailey.

Similar efforts are recommended in the rest of the United States and its territories, she noted.

Dengue symptoms

Only about one in four people infected with dengue show symptoms.

The most common symptom is fever, but it can also cause nausea, vomiting, rash, or pain – typically behind the eyes or muscle, joint or bone pain.

According to the World Health Organization, there are four strains of the virus, known as serotypes. Anyone who is infected with one of these strains cannot become infected again. However, the more often someone is infected with different strains, the more likely they are to become seriously ill.

Severe forms of dengue fever are less common, affecting about 1 in 20 people. However, the symptoms are more worrying. The disease can lead to shock, internal bleeding and even death.

According to the CDC, approximately 100 million people worldwide become ill with severe dengue fever each year and 40,000 die from it.

Dengue vaccine and treatment

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a vaccine against dengue in 2019. The CDC recommends it for children ages 9 to 16 who have laboratory-confirmed dengue infection and who live in areas of the United States where dengue is endemic or regularly occurs. The vaccine must be given in three doses, six months apart.

However, Sanofi-Pasteur announced that production of the Dengvaxia vaccine would be stopped due to lack of demand on the global market.

There is no dengue vaccine available for adults in the United States. The CDC stated that two other dengue vaccines are approved or in development, but they are not currently available in the United States.

There is also no specific medication to treat dengue fever, according to the CDC. Over-the-counter medications such as acetaminophen may relieve fever or pain, but experts advise against taking aspirin or ibuprofen because they can increase the risk of bleeding, which sometimes occurs with dengue fever.

How to protect yourself from dengue fever

The most important steps to prevent dengue fever are preventing mosquito bites and controlling mosquitoes in and around the home. When you go outside, the CDC recommends using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved insect repellents to prevent bites from mosquitoes that may transmit dengue fever. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants is another option, as is treating your clothing with 0.5% permethrin, an insecticide.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which spreads dengue fever and other viruses, doesn’t like to travel far and prefers to breed in our backyards, said Dr. Isik Unlu, deputy director and operations manager of the Miami-Dade County Mosquito Control Division.

“They prefer to be around people. That’s the problem,” she said, adding that the species is often found in containers where rainwater collects, especially in the summer months.

Almost anything you see in a backyard can become a breeding ground, Unlu says, including birdbaths, saucers, tires, gutter extensions and kiddie pools.

Unlu and Paz-Bailey recommend removing standing water around your home as often as possible to prevent mosquitoes from congregating and breeding.

CNN Wire contributed to this report.

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By Seren