6 things to know about dengue fever

Concerns are growing among U.S. health experts about rising cases of dengue fever, an infection caused by mosquito bites that could become endemic to some states within the next decade. 

The mosquito-borne virus is carried by the Aedes species, which lives in warmer climates of places like Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Pacific Islands, Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Central and South America and Southeast Asia, according to the CDC. These are the areas where dengue fever is also most common.

However, rising global temperatures due to climate change are making parts of the Southern U.S. more habitable to the mosquito, which in time could result in spread of dengue nationally. On Oct.23, health officials in Pasadena, Calif., confirmed a case there.

"As long as people keeping living like they’re living now" — with air conditioners, screens and insulated housing — there won't be the scale of outbreak in the U.S. that other, less resourced countries have, because proper housing reduces the risk, Thomas Scott, PhD, a dengue epidemiologist and professor emeritus at University of California Davis told The New York Times

Here are six other notes about the disease:

  • Cases of dengue in the U.S. are typically imported from travel, not acquired on U.S. territory, CDC data shows.

  • The Pasadena, Calif., case of dengue was one of the rare, locally acquired cases, according to The Times.

  • Only a quarter of cases are symptomatic, according to the CDC.

  • Five percent of cases turn into severe dengue, which is life-threatening.

  • Johnson & Johnson reported Oct. 20 that its experimental antiviral for dengue virus showed efficacy in humans in a phase 2 trial.
  • The disease is sometimes called "break-bone fever" due to the excruciating pain it can cause, CBS News reported.

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