JENSEN BEACH, Fla. -- Martin County Health Department officials are preparing to try out a new way of tracking just how widespread dengue fever is in Rio and Jensen Beach.
The new preparations come after 18 confirmed cases.
Officials are going door to door asking residents for voluntary blood samples. This is to help them track how many cases there are in the area, especially those that have not developed symptoms.
Marty Baum was one of the first confirmed cases of dengue fever. His girlfriend was also infected.
Baum believes they were both bitten by infected mosquitos in her front yard.
“Between 9 o'clock on Saturday I was fine, 10 o'clock I was a 102 fever and almost convulsive and shivers," Baum described. 18 hours later she became symptomatic.
His symptoms lasted for two weeks, consisting of a rash, body ache, and soaring temperatures. "There wasn't a lot of mercy to it, I just hurt really bad," he said.
The Martin County Health Department is still trying to determine where mosquitos infected the other 16 people, and any other possible unrecorded cases.
They plan to ask for blood samples to determine that. “It’s so important to get people to agree to do the blood, because we won't be able to see how widespread is this virus unless we test for it,” said Karlette Peck with the health department.
It's an action plan that's drawing mixed reaction from residents.
"It's really weird to even hear that," said Scott Morgan. "I don't know what I'd say, I'd have to think about it."
Others support anything to stop more cases from being reported. "If that's the way it's going to happen then yea, I'll do that. I'm really open minded," said Rio resident Pat Bodie.
Baum says after experiencing dengue fever, a prick from a blood sample is nothing compared to the painful symptoms.
The door to door sampling will last for a week. Officials will also be offering information and advice on how to continue protecting properties from the dengue fever-bearing mosquitos.
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