Yucatan Peninsula's 30,200 Dengue Cases Disrupt Vacations
Throughout the global dengue fever outbreak in 2023, a top-rated Mexico destination suddenly became a substantive hot spot for this mosquito-transmitted disease.
According to Mexico's Health Ministry dengue report in October 2023, there were 30,320 confirmed dengue cases on the Yucatan Peninsula between January and October 7, 2023.
This data confirms dengue cases have increased in this area of Mexico by 337% this year.
Additionally, the Mexico News Daily reported over 167,000 probable cases of dengue in 2023 and 48 deaths caused by severe dengue as of October 18, 2023.
While most dengue infections are asymptomatic or produce mild illness, the symptoms range from mild to debilitating high fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and a rash.
The illness can quickly evolve into severe dengue, characterized by shock, respiratory distress, bleeding, and possible organ impairment.
Julián García Rejón, head of the Arbovirology Laboratory at the Autonomous University of Yucatán, told the newspaper El Economista on October 15, 2023, that dengue serotype 3 (DENV-3) is currently present across the majority of Mexico.
García said that DENV-3 likely reached Mexico from Central or South America, with large, ongoing dengue outbreaks.
That serotype has not previously been prevalent in Mexico.
According to the Pan American Health Organization, infection with one dengue serotype provides lifelong immunity but only "partial and transient protection" against the other three subtypes.
This means without previous immunity, many people may become sick with dengue if they are bitten by an infected mosquito carrying the virus.
García added that the highest number of dengue infections in Yucatán have typically occurred in "epidemiological week 43," which is in late October.
On the south side of Yucatan is the state of Quintana Roo, home of Cancún, a beach-front resort that welcomed about 30 million people in 2022.
The U.S. CDC recommends international travelers infected with dengue drink plenty of fluids, including beverages with electrolytes, to remain hydrated while infected with dengue fever. They should not take aspirin or ibuprofen.
The good news is dengue is a vaccine-preventable disease, with two dengue vaccines in use in 2023.
Mexico's Health regulator, Cofepris, stated on September 3, 2023, that the Dengvaxia® vaccine can be offered to adults but shouldn't be administered to children younger than nine. And Dengvaxia requires pre-admission testing.
Dengvaxia is a U.S. FDA-approved vaccine and is available for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and freely associated states. However, the vaccine is not approved for use by U.S. travelers visiting but not living in an area where dengue is common.
In the continental U.S., Florida has reported the most locally acquired and travel-related dengue cases in 2023.
And the greater Los Angeles area reported its first local dengue cases in October 2023.