HEALTH MINISTRY RECORDS INCREASE IN CASES OF DENGUE FEVER
Friday December 12, 2008
The Ministry of Health and Social Development has seen an increase in the number of reported dengue cases in the Territory since late October.
Surveillance activities conducted by the ministry’s epidemiology unit have logged 36 suspected cases of dengue fever for the period mid-October to early December.
Of these, 32 samples were sent for testing at the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre in Trinidad and Tobago and to a private laboratory in Puerto Rico. The remaining four samples are currently awaiting shipment.
To date, seven cases have been confirmed.
These comprise of six cases contracted locally and one imported case, with multi-serotypes or different strains of the dengue virus having been identified for the positive cases.
This evidence indicates a serious risk to the public and Vector Control Programme Manager in the Environmental Health Division Mr. Minchington Israel explained there are four strains of the dengue virus called Dengue 1, Dengue 2, Dengue 3 and Dengue 4.
He stated that infection with one strain of the virus confers lifelong immunity from that particular strain.
“However re-infection with any of the other strains can weaken an immune system that has already been compromised by the virus.
This re-infection could result in the highly fatal complication called Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF),” he added.
The Environmental Health Division is currently conducting fever surveillance and mosquito control in all affected areas.
To date, Aedes aegypti inspectors have conducted mosquito reduction exercises at more than 1000 premises, surveying the outdoor environment and removing mosquito breeding sites from the environment.
Dengue fever is a flu-like illness that is transmitted by the bite of an infected female Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Aedes is a domestic mosquito which breeds in clear or clean standing water in and around the home. Dengue cannot be transmitted from person to person.
The classic signs and symptoms of dengue include a very high fever, an intense frontal headache, pain behind the eyes or retro-orbital pain as well as muscle and joint pains.
Additionally, infected persons may also develop a rash. If this occurs, persons are advised to seek immediate medical attention.