MOH announces dengue outbreak

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 19, No. 28            July 23, 2009

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As we go to press, the Ministry of Health (MOH) is facing growing concern of a dengue outbreak. According to the Ministry there’s a Dengue outbreak in the Cayo District. The MOH reports that 114 cases were confirmed in the western district between May 4th and July 14th and it is of growing concern to the department. The reported cases exceeds the expected number for this time of year and figures show that most of these cases are all within the Cayo District making it a Dengue Outbreak.

    But while the greatest number of cases has appeared in the Cayo District, nationally the figures show that there are 184 suspected cases reported countrywide this year so far. Of more concern is that 17 of those cases were clinically diagnosed as Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever; the most deadly form dengue and the majority of those 17 cases are from the Cayo District. Hemorrhagic is a much more serious form of Dengue with a very high mortality rate, but at this time, there are no confirmed fatalities.

    However while there are no confirmed fatalities, Doctor Javier Zuniga, Director of the San Pedro Poly Clinic told The San Pedro Sun that the ministry is investigating the recent death of a male in San Pedro that could possibly be due to Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. After an emergency meeting at the San Pedro Town Council on Tuesday night, Zuniga said that so far, there have been suspected cases on the island. “We don’t know exactly how much suspected cases we have because the information is coming from private and public health providers,” stated Zuniga. It is uncertain exactly how many suspected cases are in San Pedro but Zuniga states that, “There is no need for alarm at this time.” He added, “What we should concentrate on at this time is preventative measures.” Dengue is an infectious disease that is transmitted by the bite of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes, which breed in fresh water stored in natural or artificial containers in and around human dwellings, such as old tires, flowerpots and water storage containers. Activities that should be done to prevent Dengue include: washing water storage containers such as drums at least once a week, changing the water in flower pots every 4 or 5 days, avoid having containers that can collect water in your yard such as empty cans and tires, and keep vats, drums, buckets and all other containers that can collect water properly covered. 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.

    Symptoms of Dengue Fever begin with sudden onset of high fever (104 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit), as well as headache, eye pain or eyeball pain, joint pain, muscle pain, backache, nausea and or lack of appetite, vomiting and rash, Hemorrhagic manifestations (unusual bleeding from the gums/heavy menstrual bleeding/unexplained bruises) and general weakness.

    As for the death of the male adult which may have been as a result of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever, MOH Information Officer Beverly Phillips could not confirm the cause of death but said that Ministry is currently investigating and awaiting the results of an autopsy that will indicate the cause of death. Most of the suspected and confirmed cases have come from the Cayo and Belize Districts.
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