Florida’s got some bad news. It doesn’t know how to tell you this, America, but let’s just say you might want to go get checked out.
See, some people from Florida were hanging around in Central America, or maybe some people from Central America were hanging around in Florida—I don’t know, it’s not important.
The point is, Florida’s got a case of dengue fever. In the Keys area, if you know what it means.
Yeah, dengue fever. It’s pretty serious.
They call it “breakbone fever” because when you have it, it feels like your bones are breaking. You run a high fever, your eyes hurt, you start vomiting and worse… Don’t cry, America, it’s not usually fatal. When you catch it early enough, you have more than a 99-percent chance of survival.
You may have heard of it before. Florida had an outbreak in 2009-2010, with over 90 cases reported. The disease is rampant in the tropics, infecting tens of millions every year and sending another half-million to the hospital, according to the World Health Organization; but until 2009, reports the Florida Department of Health, no case had been acquired in Florida since 1934.
There were isolated cases here and there traced to international travel, but a new CDC study found something disturbing about the 2009-2010 outbreak in Key West: “Infections in Key West seem to have been locally acquired.”
The Key West strain is likely a home-brewed mutant of the Central American strain and is now endemic to Florida’s Aedes aegypti population, a disease-bearing mosquito that continues to spread throughout the Southeast and beyond.
Yep, it’s back, and it may be here to stay.
There’s no vaccine, but don’t worry, America, Florida knows a really good doctor.