City’s health department says “avoid mosquitoes” in Caribbean and Latin America, citing 1 million cases of incurable dengue fever in that region this year. Airports here host some 9 million trips to and from there annually.
The New York City Health Department issued a travel advisory Tuesday for the Caribbean and Latin America because of heightened concerns about dengue fever in the region.
Transmitted by mosquito, the tropical illness causes flu-like symptoms of fever, headache, eye pain and rashes, but in its most severe form becomes a hemorrhagic fever that can liquefy internal organs.
“There is no vaccine or cure for dengue, so the best way to protect yourself is to avoid mosquitoes while traveling,” said City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley. The advisory urges constant application of insect repellant, to both skin and clothes, when outdoors, and sleeping under a mosquito net when indoors. “And if you develop a fever and other symptoms within two weeks of returning home, be sure to tell your doctor of your recent travel,” Mr. Farley said.
More than one million cases of dengue fever have been reported in 2010 in the Caribbean and in Central and South America, all popular vacation destinations for New Yorkers. The department issued the advisory as people start thinking about fall and winter travel plans.
Over the past year, about 5.2 million people traveled to the Caribbean and Bermuda from New York’s airports, according to data from the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. Another 2.5 million went to Central and South America, and 1.3 million traveled to Mexico.
Mosquitoes with dengue are extremely rare in the Northeast, according to the advisory.
New York City’s known cases of dengue favor have all been in travelers, most often people arriving from Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. Last year a Rochester, N.Y., woman contracted the illness while on vacation in Key West, Florida.