The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an urgent alert to healthcare providers and the public to remain vigilant for cases of dengue fever, as the global incidence has reached an all-time high this year.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne illness common in tropical and subtropical climates. This year, there has been an unprecedented surge in dengue cases across many countries, with numbers far exceeding the norm. According to a CDC news release Tuesday, the risk of dengue virus infections in the United States has also significantly increased.

"In 2024, countries in the Americas have reported a record-breaking number of dengue cases, exceeding the highest number ever recorded in a single year. From January 1 – June 24, 2024, countries in the Americas reported more than 9.7 million dengue cases, twice as many as in all of 2023 (4.6 million cases)," the CDC stated in a news release.

In the United States, a concerning 745 cases of dengue fever have been identified among travelers since the start of the year. This uptick underscores the need for heightened awareness and preventive measures to curb the spread of the virus.

Vector control and reducing the chances of mosquito bites are the recommended ways to prevent dengue fever. The CDC recommends "promote mosquito bite prevention measures among people living in or visiting areas with frequent or continuous dengue transmission."

Meanwhile, healthcare providers are advised to remain highly vigilant for dengue in patients presenting with fever and a recent travel history to regions with frequent or continuous dengue transmission. Additionally, they recommend considering locally acquired dengue in patients exhibiting symptoms such as fever, and other symptoms of dengue in areas with mosquito vectors responsible for transmission.

The typical symptoms of dengue include fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, nausea, rash, abdominal pain or tenderness, persistent vomiting, muscle pain or joint pain, and swollen glands.

Most people recover within a week. However, some individuals may develop severe dengue, which can be life-threatening. In such cases, blood vessels become damaged and leaky, and the number of platelets in the bloodstream decreases, leading to shock, internal bleeding, organ failure, and potentially death.

Severe dengue symptoms include severe stomach pain, persistent vomiting, bleeding from gums or nose, blood in urine, stools, or vomit, bruising under the skin, rapid breathing, fatigue, and irritability or restlessness.

Those with symptoms of dengue should take appropriate diagnostic tests such as reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction [RT-PCR] and IgM antibody tests, or non-structural protein 1 [NS1] antigen tests and IgM antibody tests to confirm the diagnosis.

"There are no antiviral medications approved to treat dengue. Treatment is supportive and requires careful volume management. Appropriate triage, management, and follow-up remain the most effective interventions to reduce dengue morbidity and mortality," the CDC stated.