November 20, 2013
Health Commissioner Reports Dengue Virus Case
Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services James
Tomarken reported today that health officials have identified a case of dengue
virus in a resident of Suffolk County. A male over 50 years of age from the
Township of Babylon was hospitalized in September 2013 with symptoms consistent
with dengue virus. He has since fully recovered.
Dengue virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of a mosquito. This case is
significant in that it is known to be the first locally acquired case of dengue
virus in New York State. While Suffolk County had two confirmed cases of dengue
virus in 2012 and three in 2011, those individuals are thought to have acquired
the virus while traveling in dengue endemic regions of the world.
It is estimated that there are over 100 million cases of
dengue worldwide each year. Southern
Florida, southern Texas, and Hawaii are the only areas in the United States
where locally acquired dengue fever transmission has routinely occurred. In
the Western Hemisphere, the Aedes aegypti mosquito is the most
important transmitter or vector of dengue viruses, although the Aedes
locally as the Asian Tiger mosquito, can transmit disease.
“The exact route of transmission in this case is unknown,” said
Dr. James Tomarken, Suffolk County Commissioner of Health Services. “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
This individual was likely infected locally with dengue
virus when bitten by a mosquito that had previously bitten an infected
traveler. Both state and local health officials say that despite this isolated
finding of locally acquired dengue virus in New York, they do not expect that
dengue virus will become widespread in the region, as the temperate climate in
New York does not lend itself to sustained transmission of the virus.
"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.”
The principal symptoms of dengue fever are high fever, severe headache, severe
pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mild bleeding
or bruising. The more severe form of the disease, Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever
(DHF), can be fatal, and most commonly occurs when someone is infected with
dengue for the second time. There is no immunization for dengue virus, and
there is no specific treatment for a dengue infection. Individuals with
symptoms are advised to consult their health care providers.
The best preventive measure for mosquito-borne diseases is to reduce mosquito
breeding areas around homes, primarily artificial containers that hold water.
Proper application of mosquito repellents containing DEET, decreases the risk
of being bitten by mosquitoes.
Although New York
State is not thought to have mosquito populations endemic with dengue, Suffolk
County maintains a long-term community-based plan to reduce mosquito
populations and prevent other mosquito-borne diseases that are endemic to the
region, including West Nile virus.