A Long Beach resident has contracted Dengue Fever from a local mosquito, the city’s health department announced last week. This is the first locally-acquired case in the city and the second locally-acquired case in California. The first, as City News reported, occurred in Pasadena last month.
What is Dengue?
Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by the Aedes mosquito. Though most people will experience no symptoms or mild illness, Dengue can lead to severe disease in some individuals. Death is possible but rare.
Symptoms of Dengue include fever, rash, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, and joint pain. Symptoms can start out mild and worsen within 2-3 days, so it’s important to seek medical treatment early if you believe you’ve contracted Dengue.
How did it get here?
Dengue is common in parts of the Caribbean, South and Central America, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Puerto Rico. Small outbreaks have only occurred in a few U.S. states, including Texas. Overall, Dengue is rare in the continental U.S.
As in the Pasadena case, Long Beach officials believe Dengue was first introduced by a resident who had traveled to an area where Dengue is more common. The person was bitten and then returned to SoCal where they were bitten again by a local mosquito. The local mosquito then transmitted the virus to someone else.
There has been some concern about the spread of Dengue in California since 2011 when the Aedes mosquito first made its debut in the state. Mosquitoes have become more prevalent in California over the past decade thanks to global commerce and climate change.
How worried should residents be about Dengue?
Health officials insist the two L.A. County cases are isolated incidents, and they are not worried about an outbreak of Dengue in California. Mosquito season typically ends in November anyway, so we should be getting a reprieve from mosquito activity. With that said, health officials are reminding residents to take the usual precautions to prevent mosquito bites.
How can people protect themselves?
The best way to prevent Dengue Fever is to prevent getting bitten. Experts advise using a repellent with DEET, IR3535 or picaridin. Citronella-based soaps can be used as a protective base underneath repellent. Wear long pants and loose-fitting clothing. And as always, remove any standing water on or around your property. Mosquitoes can breed just a bottle cap full of water.