Ask the experts
Does dengue fever occur in the U.S.?
Yes, it sure does and it is on the rise in Florida.
This may not be too surprising since the incidence of dengue fever has recently been increasing in the Caribbean and Central America, including Cuba and the Bahamas, which are within 100 miles of Florida. On the average, only 1-2 cases per year have been found in Florida. However, between 1997 and 1998, at least 18 people in Florida were found to have dengue fever (as reported in MMWR 1999;48:1150-1152). All had contracted the illness in other countries (Haiti, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Venezuela, Barbados, Nicaragua and Thailand).
Dengue can potentially spread from infected travelers via mosquitoes in the US. Although no local transmission of dengue has been detected in Florida, many southern states may be at risk for transmission. Dengue transmission has been detected in Texas. Two mosquito vectors (that carry the dengue virus) are widely distributed in Florida and many infected travelers return from areas where dengue is endemic and the resident population has essentially no immunity to dengue viruses.
Since there is no vaccine for dengue, travelers are urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing and mosquito repellant.