The patient had a fever, rash and abnormal blood test, but his words were what led the infectious disease doctor most quickly to the diagnosis of an illness seldom seen in Florida.
“The patient said it was the worst body aches he had ever had,” said Dr. Moti Ramgopal, of Fort Pierce, who grew up in Guyana. Memories of his Caribbean youth made him immediately think of dengue fever. Nearly everyone has had a bout with the mosquito-borne disease in the islands, he said. Tests confirmed his hunch.
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All property owners in the region should continue taking “Drain and Cover” mosquito precautions:
Drain standing water to stop mosquitoes from multiplying
- Drain water from garbage cans, house gutters, buckets, pool covers, coolers, toys, flower pots or any other containers where sprinkler or rain water has collected.
- Discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and other items that aren’t being used.
- Empty and clean birdbaths and pet’s water bowls at least once or twice a week.
- Protect boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water.
- Maintain swimming pools in good condition and appropriately chlorinated. Empty plastic swimming pools when not in use.
Cover skin with clothing or repellent.
Source: Martin County Health Department.
Martin County health officials are urging mosquito precautions after 7 cases of locally acquired dengue fever have been diagnosed.
The alert zone is bordered by the St. Lucie River to the south, the Martin-St. Lucie County border to the north, the Indian River to the east, and U.S. 1 to the west.
What is Dengue fever?
— It’s a mosquito-borne illness caused by one of four subtypes of virus.
— It causes flu-like symptoms that include severe body aches, high fever and a fine rash. The most severe form leads to bleeding, shock and sometimes death.
— Until 2009, Florida hadn’t had a locally acquired dengue fever report since 1934. A few scattered local cases have since appeared each year from Key West to Palm Beach County. Health officials step up mosquito control efforts at the first sign of a local case.