Health officials advise caution after confirmed cases
By Samantha Joseph
MARTIN COUNTY - Officials from the county health department are urging caution against mosquito bites after a Port Salerno resident developed dengue fever while in the county.
It was the second case of the mosquito-borne illness reported this month by press time, but one patient returned to the county with the illness after an international vacation.
Both cases were among members of the same family, officials said.
But since dengue fever is only spread from the bite of infected mosquitoes, and not via person-to-person contact, officials said it's likely the bug fed on one family member and then spread the illness to the relative.
The main carrier is the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but the Aedes albopictus also transmits the virus. Both of these mosquitoes are present in Martin County.
Symptoms of the illness include high fever, severe headache, mild bleeding, pain behind the eyes, rash and pain in the muscles, joints and bones.
"It's always a good idea this time of year to prevent mosquito bites, not just for dengue, but for other diseases," said Bob Washam, environmental health director.
To help reduce the risk of the illness spreading, officials went door-to-door to about 200 homes the week on Aug. 7, said Gene Lemire, the county's mosquito control director.
The goal was to get residents to remove potential mosquito breeding spots around their homes.
Workers said they found unsuspecting homeowners were providing perfect nesting places and saw containers teeming with bugs.
Overturned garbage can lids, bird feeders, tire swings, boats, small containers and saucers from potted plants were among some of the often-overlooked spots that mosquitoes choose to lay their eggs and grow their larvae.
"There are a lot of people breeding their own mosquitoes," said Mr. Lemire.
Tips to control the mosquito population and protect against infection include avoiding outdoor activities when mosquitoes are active during evening hours and other times when mosquitoes are most active.
Also, residents can use repellants with picaridin, or products such as DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
"We're very confident that there won't be other cases," Mr. Washam said.
For more information, call Martin County's mosquito control hotline on (772) 288-5657 or visit www.cdc.gov.dengue.