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Puerto Rico health officials declare dengue fever a public health emergency, with more than 500 cases reported

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Puerto Rico has declared an epidemic as the number of dengue fever cases continues to skyrocket in the US territory.

According to Puerto Rico’s Department of Health, at least 549 cases have been reported so far and more than 340 people have been hospitalized.

“As of March 21, 2024, the Department of Health’s Disease Epidemiological Surveillance has observed a 140% increase in dengue cases in Puerto Rico compared to the same period last year,” the ministry said in a translated press release.

In a post on

DENGUE FEVER: WHY IT’S BECOMING MORE COMMON IN THE US AND WHAT AMERICANS SHOULD KNOW

Mosquito on arm

Puerto Rico has declared an epidemic after a spike in cases of dengue, a mosquito-borne virus that is on the rise in the Western Hemisphere. (iStock)

“The increase in dengue cases requires that all sections of society join forces to prevent the infection and spread of this virus. That’s why we call for prevention,” Mellado López wrote in the translated post.

On February 28th the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 travel advisory for American travelers taking trips outside the country.

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The ministry noted that the following countries have reported increased numbers of dengue cases:

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • French Guiana
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Jamaica
  • Martinique
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Saint Barthélemy
  • Saint Martin
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

Because dengue fever is spread through mosquito bites, the CDC said all travelers to high-risk areas should prevent mosquito bites by using an EPA-registered insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors, and sleeping in an air-conditioned room with window screens or under a mosquito net treated with insecticides.

Fumigation against mosquitoes

A worker fumigates a house against the Aedes aegypti mosquito in a neighborhood in Piura, northern Peru, on June 11, 2023, to prevent the spread of dengue fever. (ERNESTO BENAVIDES/AFP via Getty Images)

The virus can cause severe headaches, fever, vomiting, rash and other symptoms.

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While most infected people do not develop symptoms, severe cases can result in plasma leakage and death.

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