Dengue fever infection confirmed in Okinawa

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The Naha Regional Public Health Center announced that medical specialists have confirmed a case of dengue fever in Naha City on Sep. 18th. The dengue fever is spread to humans by mosquitoes but not by physical contact between people.

As a precaution, Naha City has sprayed insecticides over an area of ​​about 150 square meters around the area where the infected person reportedly walked within the timeframe of the incubation of the fever. For prevention, officials advise the public to take measures against mosquito bites, such as wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants.

The infected person reportedly is a woman in her 70s who traveled to Nepal with her family from Aug. 16 through 26. Four days after returning to Japan, her family developed the dengue fever and then recovered. The woman developed the dengue on Sep. 15th. Considering the incubation period of the virus, it’s likely that she contracted the fever from a mosquito that transmitted the virus from one of the family members after they had returned home. She is now in a hospital in stable condition. No other people outside the family have been infected.

According to Okinawa Prefectural Government, there are no records of people contacting a dengue virus infection within the prefecture since 1955. The largest domestic dengue epidemic was in the area around Yoyogi Park in Tokyo in 2014.

This year, there have been 7 cases of dengue confirmed in Okinawa Prefecture and in all cases, the patients contracted the virus overseas and developed the fever after returning to Japan. Dengue does not transmit human-to-human, but the virus is transmitted by virus-infected mosquitos. No vaccine against the dengue is available in Japan. The aedes albopictus mosquito that carries the virus lives in Okinawa, so people are advised to use insect-repellants and avoid having puddles or open containers of water on their yards that create an environment for mosquito larvae to grow.

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