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Collier County experts watchful of dengue fever amid Florida Keys reports

More than a dozen cases of dengue fever have been reported in the Florida Keys during the month of July.

Collier Mosquito Control District is monitoring any possibility of it reaching Collier County and shared steps families can take to protect themselves.

Dengue-carrying mosquitoes primarily feed on humans, rarely travel more than 200 yards away from their breeding habitat near homes, and you’re unlikely to encounter them in mangroves or swampy areas.

With 14 cases of the mosquito-borne illness reported in the Florida Keys, Collier Mosquito Control District keeps an eye on it.

“What may have happened was a mosquito had bit one of those people who brought it into the state and then now it’s spreading through our populations,” said Keira Lucas with the mosquito district.

While the mosquito district says it hasn’t been that common lately, it tracks the insects for any sign of disease weekly.

“It was a life changer, no doubt,” said Wayne Dolcefino, who lives in Houston, Texas.

Dolcefino, a former investigative reporter, doesn’t believe he’ll ever be the same after contracting dengue fever more than 30 years ago.

“I think at some point I spiked to 106 fever, and I was essentially delirious,” Dolcefino said.

He still feels the long-term effects.

Symptoms typically start with severe, flu-like symptoms, headache or muscle and joint pain. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

“Dump any standing water that’s sitting in containers,” Lucas said. “We always recommend that they use a repellent, avoid dusk and dawn, and wear long sleeves and long pants when they can.”

CDC says nearly all dengue cases reported in the continental U.S. involved travelers infected elsewhere. But, because the mosquitoes that can spread dengue are common, local spread is possible.

Dolcefino hopes no one else ends up in his shoes.

“I wouldn’t want to wish it on anyone,” he said.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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