New Virus Spread Skyrockets, Fatal Infection Near Disney World

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

Dengue virus cases increase florida

Credit: Edited by Inside the Magic

After COVID-19 and the pandemic, the last thing anyone wants to hear about is a new virus. Unfortunately, that is the case and a growing worry for many Floridians right now, as a mosquito infection is carrying a deathly variant that may put you in harm’s way. The location of this infestation that has just recently arrived in America may also put those traveling to Orlando to visit Disney World, the most magical place on earth, at risk.

Here is what you need to know and how to stay safe.

sign during covid asking people to wear a mask while taking photos at EPCOT
Credit: Inside the Magic

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world shut down, including Walt Disney World. This was the longest shutdown in Walt Disney World Resort history and forced the company to suffer a financial loss, which they are still attempting to rebuild. Now, another issue is at hand.

Disney World reopened to Guests in July 2020 and has remained open since, along with a majority of the state. Because of this, Florida became, more than ever, one of the most sought-after states to visit because it had the most activities and sense of “normalcy” to offer, all while keeping safe. Walt Disney World Resort even became the most searched vacation destination!

Now, it seems a new virus has been found in Florida, and it is being caused by a bug bite. Florida health officials are warning residents about the risks of mosquito-borne illnesses after five cases of dengue fever were reported this month in a part of the United States where locally acquired cases are rare.

Disney World Cast Members Covid-19 Testing
Credit: Josh D’Amaro Instagram

Of course, this can drive fear into Guests at Walt Disney World, as their vacation plans may now put them in harms way.

As we have reported, “Dengue is a viral infection found mostly in tropical and subtropical climates, and mostly in urban or semi-urban areas. It is transmitted by female Aedes mosquitoes that have bitten a person infected with the virus.”

There are four dengue viruses listed by the CDC, and a person can be infected with dengue four times over their lifetime as the post-recovery immunity is type-specific. A second infection with a different stereotype of the virus than the first increases the risk of severe illness. (A possible fifth dengue virus has been reported, but not confirmed.)

Disneyland Paris Guests wearing masks speaking with a Cast Member
Credit: Disney

If bit by a mosquito carrying the virus, symptoms will show up within a couple of days. Normal symptoms include fever, nausea, headaches, vomiting, muscle and joint pain. There are also more severe cases which will result in internal bleeding, shock and organ failure. It is sometimes called break-bone fever because of the severity of the muscle spasms and joint pain it can cause.

Although Dengue does not typically cause death, it can, much like we saw with COVID-19. The virus is not common in the United States, but with cases popping up slowly, it seems that these mosquitos are, unfortunately, taking a liking to the hot climate that surrounds Disney World.

When we reported our last update, there were 11 cases in Florida. Now, just three days later, that number has jumped to 215. About 500 million people in the Americas, including Costa Rica and Cancun, are at risk of dengue in 2023.

Since October 30, 2022, two dengue vaccines have been authorized in various countries. New market research forecasts an 11.7% annual growth rate through 2030, indicating dengue vaccines could become a $1.2 billion market segment.  About 100 million people get sick, and 40,000 die of severe dengue around the world each year.

father and daughter wearing masks in front of cinderella castle at disney world
Credit: Disney

Unfortunately, in addition to dengue, seven locally acquired malaria cases have been reported in Florida this year. Malaria is also a mosquito-transmitted disease.

The only definite way to know if you have the virus is through blood testing, which varies from place to place. The general recommendation is to do a PCR test, if your symptoms started within a week or less.

Wearing Face Masks Comfortably
Credit: Disney

The best thing that you can do to protect yourself is to wear insect repellent when outside. These mosquitos like to be around people, so Walt Disney World Resort may be a potential breeding ground for the bugs.

Why Disney World is Safe From Dengue (For the Most Part)

Disney actually does well when it comes to keeping mosquitos out of their theme parks. Florida is surrounded by moist swamp ground, which is typically a haven for mosquitos. But, while walking around the Magic Kingdom, you may realize that nothing is really biting you.

Mosquitos lay their eggs in standing, stagnant water. This is why the swampland was the perfect breeding ground for mosquitos. So Disney knew that getting rid of any standing water was the first step in eliminating the pests altogether. Therefore, the building of drainage ditches throughout the park grounds would be created to remove any water before it could pool into areas and become stagnant.

Disney Mosquitoes
Credit: Disney

It’s nearly unnoticeable by Guests unless they’re really looking for it, but water inside the parks is always on the move. It’s either at the bottom of the 50-foot waterfall at the retired Splash Mountain, now Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, in Frontierland (Magic Kingdom) where it is constantly moving, thanks to the splashing that erupts as the log flumes descend the side of the mountain, or it’s located in an area where there are one or more fountains that keep the water churning.

There are no areas of standing water in the parks, which makes it nearly impossible for mosquitos to lay their eggs. Want to know more on this? Read our coverage here.


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