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article imageDengue Fever a New Health Threat for the United States

By KJ Mullins     Jan 9, 2008 in Health
Could dengue fever be heading to the United States? Cases of the mosquito borne disease have been reported n Texas according to Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
With a warming climate and less than stellar efforts in mosquito management Fauci and his senior scientific adviser, Dr. David Morens warns that the flu like illness could spread northwards.
"Widespread appearance of dengue in the continental United States is a real possibility," they wrote in a commentary in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"Worldwide, dengue is among the most important reemerging infectious diseases, with an estimated 50 to 100 million annual cases, 500,000 hospitalizations and, by World Health Organization estimates, 22,000 deaths, mostly in children."
Another mosquito borne illness, West Nile virus started appearing in New York 1999. It has now spread throughout North America. In the United States West Nile killed at least 98 people.
The Dengue Fever virus is carried by three different species of mosquito; Aedes albopictus, Asian tiger mosquito and the more common Aedes aegypti. The Asian tiger mosquito appeared in the United States in 1985.
While most cases of dengue virus are mild it can also cause minor bleeding from the nose or gums. In the most severe cases it can also cause severe fever and shock. In these causes without proper treatment it can prove fatal.
"The combined effects of global urbanization and increasing air travel are expected to make dengue a growing international health problem for the foreseeable future," Fauci and Morens wrote.
While malaria has been eradicated from major cities Dengue Fever is more common in urban settings. It is a common illness in Singapore, Taiwan and Brazil.
The disease starts with a sudden onset of fever, severe headache, muscle and joint ache. It can also cause a rash that is bright red and appears first on the lower limbs and the torso. In some cases it spreads to the entire body. The fever can also cause nausea, vomiting or diarrhea. It is often confused with influenza. The illness generally lasts for six to seven days. Platelet counts drop until the a patient's temperature is normal.
More about Dengue fever, United States, Mosquitoes
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