Dengue Fever Moving North; Reemerges in Texas

Late last week Texas public health officials confirmed a new wave of dengue fever has cropped up in the southernmost tip of Texas, marking the first outbreak the state has seen since 2005.

The news came on the heels of reporting in Scientific American about how scientists are trying to uncover why the mosquito-borne infection is cropping up in Florida but not in other regions of the nation that host the same Aedes aegypti species of dengue-carrying mosquitoes.

Texas public health officials announced that the same area that saw an outbreak almost a decade ago now has 18 confirmed cases of the disease. Seven are believed to have been locally acquired (rather than contracted when traveling to a dengue-endemic region), according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).

The dengue outbreak in southern Texas’s Cameron County and neighboring Hidalgo County comes after there had been an uptick in cases directly across the Texas–Mexico border in Tamaulipas over the last couple of months.

The new cases announced last week mark the first actual outbreak of dengue on either side of the border. The “outbreak” classification refers to a higher than expected number of cases either in a given period of time or in a given population. “We’ve seen in Cameron County over the last several weeks more dengue cases than we would expect,” says Chris Van Deusen, a spokesman for DSHS. In the last decade Cameron County has seen 27 cases, so 14 occurrences there over the past few weeks is significantly higher than normal.

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