RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Two species of mosquito that can carry dengue fever, a potentially deadly illness that causes hospitalization and death in Africa, India, Asia, and parts of Central and South America, can now be found in at least 28 U.S. states, according to a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Many experts predict that warmer temperatures and changing rainfall conditions brought on by global warming will expand the range of disease-carrying mosquitoes and substantially increase the worldwide threat of dengue fever.
THE DETAILS: A virus carried by mosquitoes causes dengue fever. Symptoms include high fever, rash, severe headache, and aching bones, joints, and muscles. In the report, NRDC estimates that 173.5 million Americans now live in counties with one or both of the mosquito species that can transmit the disease. While the incidence rate of dengue fever remains low in the U.S. (fewer than 50 cases per 100,000 people, mostly in Hawaii and the Mexican Border region), the rate has doubled in the past 10 years, according to the NRDC analysis. Improved mosquito monitoring and control, as well as efforts to limit global warming pollution, will be important for limiting the spread of the disease, they say.
WHAT IT MEANS: Nobody like mosquitoes; here’s one more reason to work at keeping them out of your yard and neighborhood. Whether or not dengue fever becomes a significant threat, taking steps to suppress the skeeters will make your outdoor time a lot more comfortable.