Strain of Dengue Fever Virus Pinpointed in Florida
Some 2009-2010 cases originated in Key West mosquitoes, not from travelers, CDC says
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The upshot: In some cases the dengue fever "smoking gun" was the local Florida mosquito population, rather than mosquitoes from other regions.
"(But) the Key West virus strain did not resemble those found elsewhere in Florida," said Carina Blackmore, chief of the Florida Department of Health's bureau of environmental public health medicine in Tallahassee. This, she said, implies that while patients in the Key West region had indeed contracted dengue from local mosquito carriers, patients in other parts of the state got sick through more typical means: travel abroad.
In terms of what to do about locally driven disease risk, Dr. Marc Siegel, a clinical associate professor of medicine in the department of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said that the question is how best to deal with a Florida landscape that is a "notorious breeding center" for mosquitoes.
"Mosquitoes don't really ride on planes," he noted. "The issue here is that the mosquito population is growing in the swamp areas there. This is all about these breeding grounds, which help the disease get a footing in the local area," Siegel said.
"But then the question is, how do you handle an environment that gives rise to this kind of disease spread?" added Siegel, who is the author of numerous books on infectious diseases and contagions. "It's a difficult problem that will require going step by step. Spraying is one route, but it's not always the answer. It may, in fact, become an issue of getting rid of the breeding areas themselves altogether."