A mosquito-borne illness advisory remains in effect after the Florida Department of Health in Monroe County confirmed a case of dengue on June 19. It’s the second reported case this year in the Keys, with the latest coming out of Key Largo. 

All indications show that the infection was locally acquired. The health department says the infected individual has received medical treatment and is expected to make a full recovery.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne, tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. It presents severe flu-like symptoms with severe muscle aches and pain, fever and rash in some cases. 

Health officials say there are usually no respiratory symptoms associated with the illness. Symptoms usually appear 10 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. 

Dengue fever is not contagious, but it is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito — one of the most common container-breeding mosquitoes in the Keys. They can be found breeding in artificial containers such as trash cans, flower pots and birdbaths. The mosquito is a vector of other various diseases including Zika, Chikyngunya and yellow fever. 

Health officials say they’re working with the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District staff, who are going door-to-door in the Key Largo area to inspect properties to ensure there’s no standing water or potential breeding locations. 

“We’re doing everything we normally do, but on an enhanced basis in situations like these,” said Chad Huff, public information officer with FKMCD. “We are taking a lot of staff from other parts of the Keys and moving them into that area to speed up the process.”

In addition to stepped-up inspections in the area of concern, FKMCD is also conducting enhanced mosquito surveillance and sending mosquitoes they trap to the lab for testing. Mosquito treatments are also being applied.

Emergence of the recent dengue case reinforces the importance for the public to take protective measures that include installing intact window screens, keeping areas around a residence from collecting standing water and using insect repellants. 

“From what I hear from folks in the field, mosquito season has ramped up faster than years past,” Hall said. “Where you would normally see a peak or high later on in the season, we have seen highs early on. Obviously, this is something our staff has been through before, and they’ll rise to challenge this time as well. So far, the rainy season has ramped up more quickly than years past.”

For more information, visit www.floridahealth.gov/dengue or www.keysmosquito.org.

Jim McCarthy
Jim McCarthy is one of the many Western New Yorkers who escaped the snow and frigid temperatures for warm living by the water. A former crime & court reporter and city editor for two Western New York newspapers, Jim has been honing his craft since he graduated from St. Bonaventure University in 2014. In his 4-plus years in the Keys, Jim has enjoyed connecting with the community. “One of my college professors would always preach to be curious,” he said. “Behind every person is a story that’s unique to them, and one worth telling. As writers, we are the ones who paint the pictures in the readers minds of the emotions, the struggles and the triumphs.” Jim is past president of the Key Largo Sunset Rotary Club, which is composed of energetic members who serve the community’s youth and older populations. Jim is a sports fanatic who loves to watch football, hockey, mixed martial arts and golf. He also enjoys time with family and his new baby boy, Lucas, who arrived Oct. 4, 2022.