Health officials believe the Babylon resident came down with Dengue after a mosquito that previously bit an infected traveler bit him.
Each year there are 100 million cases of the mosquito-borne dengue virus and for the first time, a case of it has been found in our own backyard. Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services James Tomarken reports a 50-year-old Babylon resident recently contracted the virus in September. Luckily he has since recovered from it.
“The exact route of transmission in this case is unknown,” said Dr. Tomarken. “However, we have determined that this individual acquired dengue virus locally, as he had not traveled outside of the local metropolitan area during the incubation period.”
Health officials believe he became infected after being bitten by a mosquito that previously bit an infected traveler. While Suffolk County has had five confirmed cases of dengue in 2011 and 2012, this is the first locally acquired case of it. The others infections are due to residents traveling to areas where dengue is common.
Despite the one infection, health officials are saying Long Island residents don’t need to be alarmed. The sort of climate we have in New York state isn’t the type that sustains the virus.
Dengue is found in the Aedes Agypti mosquito. The only other places in the United States which are known to have this certain type of mosquito is Southern Florida, southern Texas, and Hawaii. Outside of the United States, dengue outbreaks are usually more common in Puerto Rico, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. There are also periodic outbreaks of it in Samoa and Guam.
"Given the recent introduction of Aedes albopictus into New York state and the high level of travel in New York to areas of the world endemic for dengue, it is not surprising that a locally acquired case of dengue has been found in the state," said State Health Commissioner, Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H. "This finding emphasizes the need for physicians to be aware of signs and symptoms of diseases common in tropical countries, but may occasionally present themselves in New York.”
Symptoms of Dengue are high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, mild bleeding, and also mild bruising. More severe occurrences of dengue infections can be fatal and there are currently no immunizations for it.
Health officials advise the only way to really prevent such mosquito-borne diseases is to reduce breeding areas around your home. Never leave water in containers out in the open. There are also proper mosquito repellants which contain DEET that decrease the risk of mosquito bites.