Dengue fever also known as breakbone fever, is a viral disease widespread in tropical and semi-tropical countries. It's found throughout the Caribbean and is also reported in southern Florida.
A similar mosquito-borne viral illness, Chikungunya fever, is now also reported in the Caribbean.
These illnesses cause sudden high fever, severe joint and muscle pain, headache and a rash. Acute symptoms last 7-10 days, but the joint pain may continue for weeks to months longer. Treatment consists of supportive care with fluids and analgesics.
There is no vaccine. You need to prevent daytime mosquito bites using a skin repellent with at least 30% DEET (such as Ultrathon). Also apply permethrin clothing insecticide (e.g., Sawyer 9-oz. permethrin aerosol) for maximun protection. Both products are available online at Travel Medicine, Inc.
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