A Long Beach resident recently contracted dengue fever despite not having traveled outside the United States, city officials announced – this is the second case in California.
Pasadena health officials confirmed a case of mosquito-borne dengue last month in a resident who also had not traveled outside the U.S.
The Long Beach resident has recovered and there are no other suspected cases, according to city health officials on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 1, press release. The risk of local exposure remains low.
“The health and well-being of the community is our highest priority,” Mayor Rex Richardson said in a statement. “We are working closely with health officials to do everything we can to prevent more cases. We ask that everyone do their part by removing any standing water on their property to help us to control mosquitoes in our neighborhoods.
Dengue is one of many mosquito-borne diseases, such as yellow fever or the more common West Nile virus. Dengue is spread when Aedes species mosquitoes infected with the virus bite humans.
No mosquitoes collected by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services tested positive for dengue, the city said.
Dengue fever is uncommon in the US. That’s why people often contract it when they travel abroad. Dengue fever is common in many parts of Central and South America, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Islands, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – with about 4 billion people living where the disease is at risk.
That is about half of the world’s population.
Up to 400 million people are infected with dengue each year, the CDC said, with about 100 million sickened and 40,000 dying from severe cases.
But in the US, according to CDC data, there were only 1,437 confirmed cases this year, as of October 25. Only 583 cases were acquired locally — and all but 63 of those were in Puerto Rico. That data, however, does not appear to have been updated to include the Pasadena and Long Beach cases.
About one in four people infected with dengue fever develop symptoms, the Long Beach health department said. Those symptoms, which usually last no more than a week, include:
- High fever.
- Aches and pains in the eyes, joints or bones.
While there is no specific cure for dengue, Long Beach said, most people recover within two weeks.
“While some people may experience severe illness,” Long Beach said in its press release, “deaths from dengue are rare.”
Officials in Long Beach, like Pasadena and Los Angeles County, are working to prevent further spread of the virus that carries dengue.
Mosquitoes breed in standing water, and the record rainfall the region has received this year has fueled fears since spring that the vector population could flourish this year; The mosquito breeding season is May to October. In fact, when Pasadena reported its first case of dengue, the San Gabriel Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District, which includes the city, estimated that the local mosquito population was four times its average, increasing the risk of pain.
“The best way to protect yourself from dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases is to avoid mosquito bites,” Long Beach said in a statement. “Aedes mosquitoes are active during the day and in well-lit areas at night and only need a small amount of water to breed.”
To avoid mosquito bites, the city said, residents should:
- Use mosquito repellant.
- Wear a loose-fit long-sleeved shirt and long pants.
- Remove standing water around, even small amounts – because mosquitoes can breed in water as small as a bottle cap.
- Cut grass, vines, hedges and grass, where adult mosquitoes like to rest.
- Change water in pet dishes, birdbaths and other small containers weekly.
- Make sure swimming pools, spas and ponds are well maintained. Report neglected swimming pools to the health department’s Vector Control Program.
“We are taking many steps to prevent mosquito-borne infections in Long Beach,” said City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis in Wednesday’s press release. “The outreach teams visited the neighborhood where dengue was identified to provide information on how to avoid mosquito bites and ways to control mosquito breeding around the home.
“The staff of the health department continues to trap and test mosquitoes in the surrounding areas to find infected mosquitoes,” he added, “and intensified efforts to reduce breeding and control the population of mosquito.”