Does the U.S. Have Dengue Fever?

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Ask the experts

Does dengue fever occur in the U.S.?

Doctor's response

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.

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Reviewed on 1/11/2018