Dangerous Dengue Outbreaks on the Rise in 2019: How Puerto Rico is Combating the Spread of ‘Breakbone Fever’ with Public Health Emergency Declaration

Puerto Rico Experiences Public Health Crisis with Surge in Dengue Cases

In 2019, Puerto Rico declared a public health emergency over dengue, a mosquito-borne illness that has surged throughout the Americas this year. The U.S. territory of 3.2 million people has seen almost half of the 549 cases reported across the continent, with most cases concentrated in San Juan, the capital city. Known as “breakbone fever,” dengue can cause headaches, soreness, fever, and rashes—and in extreme cases, death.

Health Secretary Carlos Mellado stated that this year’s cases of dengue have surpassed historical records. Despite this declaration, there is no immediate impact on travel to or from Puerto Rico, which is a popular holiday destination. However, the emergency declaration will make it easier for the health department to access funding for detection and prevention efforts.

Major outbreaks of dengue have occurred across large swathes of the Americas in recent years, including Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, and Peru. Last year, parts of Florida were put under a mosquito-borne illness alert due to dengue. It is essential to take precautions when traveling to these areas to avoid contracting this dangerous disease.

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