Federal health officials are warning the public about the growing threat of dengue fever. Most people with dengue are not infected, but a few are and can develop serious health problems.
The most prevalent strain of dengue fever in the United States is called Florida strain, which is closely related to the virus found in Asia. The Florida strain often infects people who have recently traveled to the countries of Asia or Southeast Asia. As a result, the United States has been at heightened risk of the outbreak. Most people infected with the Florida strain do not develop symptoms, but about 1 in 200 will develop dengue fever. Those who do have symptoms, however, are usually not severe.
Dengue fever typically starts with mild fevers and body aches, but can also cause severe headaches, joint pain, and severe bleeding. Complications of the illness can include blindness, kidney failure, respiratory failure, and death.
Florida strain was the cause of sporadic outbreaks in the United States in the 1990s. But, since 2005, Florida strain has been responsible for widespread disease outbreaks in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Dengue fever infections have also been reported in the Caribbean and Canada.