Dengue fever taking its toll in the Caribbean
By Susan Mann
ST THOMAS, USVI: Dengue fever, some times called "breakbone fever" because of the excruciating back and joint pain that accompanies the infectious disease, is rapidly becoming an increasing public health threat for people living in tropical locations, including those who travel to destinations such as Thailand, Brazil and Puerto Rico.
A new research project, which will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) in early November, confirms what many health officials have long been worried about.
Dengue, which is believed to infect millions of people annually in developing countries, and causing infections in Texas along the border of Mexico, is usually transmitted to humans by mosquitoes which carry the infection.
One recent study which examined the prevalence of dengue virus among blood donors in Puerto Rico, found that one in every 1,300 donors tested positive during the 2005 epidemic. This means that this some times fatal disease could potentially infect human through the blood supply.
"The frequency of finding dengue virus in blood donors during outbreaks is comparable to what we see with West Nile virus," said Susan Stramer, executive scientific officer of the American Red Cross, in a current report published on-line by, medicalnewstoday.com.