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Oct 28, 2005
Texas Probes 15 Cases for Dengue Fever

BROWNSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- Health officials are investigating 15 cases in Brownsville for dengue fever, one of which they believe was contracted from a mosquito in the United States. The U.S.-based case, a woman believed to be in her 20s or 30s, was diagnosed with dengue hemorrhagic fever. She received medical care and survived. Two other cases also have the more serious dengue hemorrhagic fever, while the others might have dengue fever, said Dr. Brian Smith, director of the Texas Department of State Health Services region that includes South Texas. Dengue hemorrhagic fever, which is more common in Asia, the Pacific and Latin America, has been diagnosed in the United States in the past, but those people were bitten by mosquitoes in other countries, said Jim Schuermann, staff epidemiologist for the state health department. The two cases with dengue hemorrhagic fever were bitten by mosquitoes outside of the United States, possibly in Mexico, Smith said. Doug McBride, spokesman for Texas Department of State Health Services, said people with hemorrhagic fever have usually had a form of dengue before. "It's not unusual for us to have dengue cases in Texas," McBride said in a story in Friday's editions of The Brownsville Herald. "You can have people who have traveled to other countries and come back with dengue fever or you can have people who contracted it locally in Texas." The Brownsville woman had dengue fever before and acquired the more serious illness June 26. "She was from Mexico originally and did do some travel back and forth," Schuermann said in a story in Thursday's online edition of the Austin American-Statesman. "But she did not travel during the incubation period, and that's why it's locally acquired." The hemorrhagic form of the disease causes a sudden fever, rash, easy bruising, aches, weakness, restlessness and possible bleeding of the gums and internal bleeding. With care, death rates from the illness can be as low as 1 percent to 2 percent. In 1922, a half million Texans had dengue fever, said acting state epidemiologist Tom Betz. In 1999, 63 Texans had dengue fever. Officials stress the public health risk is no worse now than before the fever was discovered. "It's really not much more (dangerous) than normal because you always have the rare chance of a mosquito-borne disease," Smith said. "Just clean up your yard so you don't have any places for mosquitoes to breed." Texans can also take precautions by covering arms and legs and spraying the skin with a product that contains DEET, specially when mosquitoes are most active, dusk and dawn. The disease cannot be passed from person to person. © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Link To CDC Dengue Fever Fact Sheet:
CDC Dengue Fever Fact Sheet