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

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Mar 28, 2024

Puerto Rico has declared an epidemic as the number of dengue fever cases continues to skyrocket in the U.S. 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 epidemiological surveillance of diseases has observed a 140% increase in dengue cases for Puerto Rico compared to the same period last year,” the department said in a translated release.

In a post on X, Puerto Rico Health Secretary Carlos Mellado López said he has been monitoring the increase of dengue cases.

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“The increase in dengue cases requires that all components of society join forces in order to prevent the contagion and spread of this virus, which is why we call for prevention” Mellado López wrote in the translated post.

On Feb. 28, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 1 travel warning to American travelers as they take trips outside of the country.

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The department noted that the following countries have reported an increased number of dengue cases:

The CDC said that since dengue is spread by mosquito bites, all travelers to 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 or room with window screens or under an insecticide-treated bed net.

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

While most infected people do not get symptoms, severe cases can lead to plasma leakage and death.

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