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Monday, August 7, 2006 - Page updated at 07:06 PM

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Increase in dengue fever among U.S. travelers

ATLANTA — Dengue fever has increased among U.S. travelers, with 96 cases reported in 2005, compared to 98 cases in the previous five years combined, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The trend was reported in the June 30 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, and publicized by the Center for Infectious Disease Research & Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Of the patients with confirmed cases, 17 were hospitalized, including one who died — a 28-year-old woman who had spent a week in Mexico.

Travel destinations among the patients included Mexico and other parts of Central America, the Caribbean and Asia.

According to the CDC, incidences of dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever are increasing in tropical areas of the world due to smaller mosquito-control programs, urbanization of the tropics, increasing human populations, and increased use of nonbiodegradable products that provide mosquito breeding areas.

If you're traveling to places where dengue is endemic, use insect repellants, wear protective clothing and make sure your indoor locations are screened or air-conditioned.

The CDC also said that underreporting of dengue is likely. Health care practitioners are not required to report it, and it may go undiagnosed. Its symptoms include headaches, rashes, cramps and back and muscle pain. Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a potentially deadly complication.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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