Monday, October 15–The community is being advised to safeguard themselves against Dengue Fever by clearing their property of any objects that can contain water and become breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Surveillance activities conducted by the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health and Social Development have logged 43 suspected cases of dengue fever throughout the Territory as of October 15.
However, the areas with the highest number of cases are: Purcell Estate, Johnson Ghut, Hannah’s Estate, Nanny Cay and Handsome Bay in Virgin Gorda. The age range of those affected is from age six months to 81 years. Additionally, there is an outbreak in Puerto Rico and the community is being advised to take appropriate measures against the virus.
Chief Environmental Health Officer, Mr. Carnel Smith is advising that certain preventative measures can be taken to eliminate the mosquito and its breeding sites. Home owners are encouraged to clean flower vases regularly. Additionally, flower pots with saucers should be emptied, and the saucers wiped clean weekly since the mosquito larvae may breed in the water that can collect.
The Chief Environmental Health Officer is also recommending that wet flower pots with water be replaced with dirt,
Furthermore, cisterns should be sealed with concrete and downspouts covered with mosquito netting, cloth, plastic or another suitable cover.
Buckets, pails and other such containers used to store water indoors should be kept tightly covered to prevent the breeding of mosquitoes.
Mr. Smith recommends that items such as old tyres should be disposed of at the incinerator plant, punctured or secured under shelter to prevent the collection of water. He further suggests that any other items that can collect water, be properly disposed of at the Incinerator Plant; turned over or secured under shelter.
The Vector Control Unit of the Division recommends that pet owners wash their pet dishes with a rag or a sponge weekly to destroy mosquito eggs. Furthermore, roof gutters should also be cleaned weekly to ensure that dirt and leaves do not trap rain water and allow mosquitoes to breed.
Dengue fever is a flu-like illness that is transmitted by the bite of an infected femaleAedes aegypti mosquito. It cannot be transmitted from person to person. Aedes aegypti is a domestic mosquito which breeds in clear or clean standing water in and around the home.
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 these occur, persons are advised to seek immediate medical attention.
There are four strains of the dengue virus called Dengue 1, Dengue 2, Dengue 3 and Dengue 4. 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).
The Environmental Health Division has assured that its Vector Control Unit is currently conducting surveillance and mosquito control in all affected areas. The Division is currently working on an intensified campaign to be launched shortly.
The Ministry of Health and Social Development endeavours to provide leadership which promotes health, social wellness and a safe environment as positive attributes for maintaining healthy lifestyles.