One of the most serious mosquito-transmitted diseases is Dengue (pronounced DENG-gay) Fever. Historically, those in the United States have not had to worry about this disease; mosquitos which transmit Dengue have only been problematic for those in India, most of South Asia, northern areas of South America and Central America. However, in the past two years, outbreaks of Dengue have occurred in Key West, Florida prompting health officials to worry if the disease will grasp a foothold in the United States.
Symptoms of Dengue Fever are much more serious than those of the West Nile virus which has drawn a lot of attention from U.S. media in recent years. While West Nile was responsible for some deaths, many of those infected never experienced symptoms or had symptoms no different than those of the common cold. Dengue Fever carries significantly more serious side-effects. Symptoms of Dengue Fever include a high fever, headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite. The fever can also result in a decrease in platelets and white blood cells. More serious cases of Dengue Fever include encephalitic occurrences (swelling of the brain), a weak pulse and low blood pressure.
While West Nile is commonly reported as being life-threatening, in truth, it is no more life-threatening than a common cold; fatal victims of the virus were usually elderly. Dengue is more life-threatening to younger, healthier people making it a mosquito-transmitted disease that should warrant more concern.
Dengue Fever is also known as “breakbone fever” since those infected report feeling intense pain in their bones and joints. Not everyone infected with Dengue Fever will experience such painful symptoms; some of those infected never even know they have it.
For now, it appears that Dengue Fever is only a concern to those in the southern parts of Florida. It is advisable to use a DEET-based mosquito repellent when venturing outdoors in the area. Mosquitoes carrying Dengue Fever were a fairly significant problem in the U.S. in the 1960s, but were eradicated by the pesticide DDT.