As with anything, visiting Walt Disney World Resort comes with a set of risks.
Although there are risks associated with traveling anywhere, Disney World poses a unique set of risks. After all, a tourist destination in which thousands of people from all over the world are gathered and concentrated in one relatively small space is certainly risky. And it’s no secret that falling ill or even suffering an injury at Walt Disney World isn’t impossible. After all, the Disney magic can only protect us from so much.
But when it comes to viruses, it’s a different ballgame entirely. Last month, we reported on the emergence of a deadly virus in the Central Florida area and how it’s affecting the risk associated with visiting a Disney Park. Unfortunately, we’re back with an update.
The Virus That’s Causing Concern In Florida (Spoiler Alert, It’s Not Coronavirus)
When we first reported on this topic, we shared that Florida had witnessed 11 different cases of “locally acquired Dengue Fever” in 2023, in two different counties. Public Health officials noticed and expressed cause for concern. Not only that, but at the time of Disney Dining’s first article on Dengue Fever, only 204 travel-associated cases had been identified. Recently, a new report has emerged, sharing an update on the presence of Dengue Fever in Central Florida, but the news is…good and bad.
We’ll begin with the bad news: the number of cases has grown in a short amount of time, with 244 travel-associated cases of Dengue Fever being the current number. Not only that, but the number of locally acquired Dengue Fever cases has also risen to at least 16.
That being said, there is a silver lining: 2022 saw 68 locally acquired cases of Dengue Fever, and with the colder months approaching soon, it doesn’t seem likely that locally acquired cases will even come close to that number. Why do cool months play a role in Dengue Fever? It has to do with how the virus spreads.
What Is Dengue Fever and How Does It Spread?
Dengue Fever, according to Disney Dining’s earlier report, can be described as:
…the disease process caused by four Flaviviridae viruses (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3, and DENV-4). The virus, which is relatively similar to West Nile, tick-borne encephalitis, and Yellow Fever, is capable of causing severe illnesses such as Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever and Dengue Shock Syndrome.
Dengue Fever spreads via mosquito bite; while it cannot spread from person to person, it can spread once a mosquito bites and feeds from someone carrying the virus. If you’ve noticed any two things about the Sunshine State, it’s the humidity and the mosquitoes. That’s not a coincidence, either. Mosquito populations thrive in warm, tropical areas such as Florida.
What Does This Virus Look Like?
First and foremost, it’s worth noting that Dengue Fever won’t always cause any symptoms. But if it does, they’ll begin anywhere after 4-10 days of the virus’s incubation. Symptoms include headaches, body aches, nausea, fevers, and even rashes. The symptoms can last from 2-7 days, and can range from mild to extreme.
So, should guests visiting Walt Disney World be worried? Not just yet. Although cases are growing, they’re growing in counties that are a hours away from Walt Disney World Resort. While infected mosquitos can potentially travel that distance, Disney works hard to control the mosquito populations on its expansive property, keeping guests as safe as possible.
If you’d like to protect yourself from viruses while visiting the vacation destination, it never hurts to use bug repellant, and to wash your hands often. Consider wearing a mask and even practicing social distancing while visiting the theme parks, too.