The Battle Against Dengue Continues
The Department of Public Health and Vector Control Unit are on the spotlight once again. But it’s not what you are thinking. No!, there hasn’t been a serious case of dengue reported in the north. The Department of Public Health and Vector Control Unit; though, are making sure it remains that way.
While the mosquitoes cannot be terminated completely, the Public Health Department and the Vector Control Unit are working diligently to reduce the transmission of the disease. Over the past weeks, they have been working with the Orange Walk Town Council carrying out cleaning up campaigns in specific areas within town.
Today Karel Heredia from the Public Health Department shared what are some of the measures taken to prevent the outbreak of dengue particularly in the rural areas.
Karel Heredia - Public health Inspector
“Prevent Dengue especially in the rural areas likewise in Orange Walk Town. What we do is that whenever a person comes in whether it is a suspected case or laboratory confirm we still do another confirmation so as to be sure that this person has Dengue, based on that information then the guys from vector control proceed to do fagging on a focal area, the area where the person lives and around it. We don’t have a target, yes we are doing acting surveillance whereby last month we had vehicles from Belize City coming and doing ULV spraying, which is the truck back spraying and apart from that as I mention before a positive case we get from a certain area then the guys move from that area to spray the focal point, the surrounding area where that person lives.”
Since spraying with insecticide has proven to be very helpful in controlling the reproduction of the Aedes Aegyptia mosquito which carries the dengue virus, the health department is asking the general public to keep the windows and doors of their residence open when the ULV machine passes through their area spraying the insecticide.
The appeal is made for two main reasons. One, that two or more suspected cases of dengue are reported to the Orange Walk Vector Control Unit on a daily basis and two, that there is no cure for dengue.
Karel Heredia - Public health Inspector
“My words of advice is that if they are presenting signs and symptoms of Dengue for example headache, pain behind the eyes, muscles joints, extremely high fever not to take medication on their own, to seek medical advice and to come to the nearest health post so that we could see whether or not this is a Dengue fever they are having, another note to keep their yards clean, destroy breeding site such are pans which can hold water because these types of mosquitos specifically likes clean water to breed and if we have clean water around them more than likely we will be having the breeding sites for this mosquitos and then if a person is infected on that area more than likely we will have another case emerging.”
Of note is that there has been a recent outbreak of dengue in the region including Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras, who declared a state of emergency after sixteen persons died as a result of dengue. In other parts of Central America more than forty thousand persons have been infected with twenty-six deaths reported.
The public is also encouraged to take every precaution including the following:
1. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience a high fever and any of the following symptoms: headache, pain behind the eyes (retro-orbital pain), joint and muscle pain, and rash.
2. Do not take any medication that contains Aspirin, and drink lots of liquids;
3. Use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites;
4. Ensure your home is properly screened;
5. Keep house windows open whenever the Ministry of Health is conducting spraying activities in order for insecticide to reach mosquitoes inside the home.
* What is Dengue?
It is an infectious disease caused by a virus and is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. There are two types of Dengue; (i) Dengue (ii) Dengue Hemorrhagic. Dengue Hemorrhagic is when a person that is already affected by Dengue gets bitten a second time, then develops Dengue Hemorrhagic which in most cases is fatal.
Dengue cannot be transmitted by direct contact by someone who is already infected; it can only be transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito after it has fed on sick person’s blood. The mosquito can travel for very long distances and thus it can contaminate people from different communities or different areas in the same community. This day-biting species is most active in early morning and late afternoon.
*Sudden and sharp high fever (104 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit) that last for five or seven days.
*Intense pain on the muscles, joints, back, bones, head and eyes.
*Shin rash, vomiting and diarrhea
*Bitter taste in the mouth, loss of appetite
*Some patients can suffer from bleeding episodes in ears and other body parts.
*Dengue Hemorrhagic is particularly serious. It can be fatal especially for children under 15.
*Hemorrhagic manifestations (unusual bleeding from the gums/heavy menstrual bleeding/unexplained bruises).
* General Weakness
There is no treatment or vaccine available for Dengue. If a person is infected he should drink plenty of liquids and rest in bed. He should take some medications to reduce the fever, malaise and intense pain. No aspirin should be taken. If a person suspects that he could have Dengue Hemorrhagic he should immediately go to the nearest medical center.
General Characteristics of the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes:
These mosquitoes need accumulated and uncovered water for its reproduction so that they lay and rear their eggs. This process can take place both in clean or dirty water. They can develop in any type of receptacle such as bottles, discarded tires, flower vases, roof water drainage, tin cans and toys, as well as in natural water areas such as ponds, tree holes, fruit peels and plants. These mosquitoes develop in both rural and urban areas but mostly bite during the daytime. These are ideal breeding sites for the mosquito that transmits Dengue. With the elimination of breeding sites in and around the yard, Dengue can be avoided.
The public is also encouraged to use mosquito repellent spray or lotion on the body or clothing, and to stay in well-screened areas. Dengue Fever is a disease that must be taken very seriously, in particular if you have had these symptoms in the past, and every effort should be made to keep yourself, your family and your community safe by maintaining a clean environment.