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Dengue Results Received

aedes aegyptii mosquito

Results received late yesterday (11 March) from the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) in Trinidad have confirmed that three Cayman Islands residents, who became ill in January, did indeed have dengue type 2.

"We are glad to say that those three persons had recovered by late January, and equally glad to say there are no more suspected dengue cases in the Cayman Islands," said the Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kiran Kumar.

Dengue fever is caused by a virus, transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected aedes aegyptii mosquito. Dr. Kumar explained that a chain of events likely caused the local cases.

For example, visitors from countries with dengue, or residents who returned home from those countries, could have contracted mild, undiagnosed cases of the illness. Mosquitoes here probably picked up the virus, and then transferred it to the three local persons who later tested positive for dengue.

Despite the fact that there are no suspected cases in Cayman, Dr. Kumar noted that anti-mosquito measures are continuing, led by staff from the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MCRU), and the Department of Environmental Health (DEH).

Also, both public and private health practitioners are being vigilant in monitoring for dengue. "If we encounter a suspected case, we again will send samples to CAREC for testing," he said.

Dengue symptoms include high fever; severe headache; backache; joint and eye pain; nausea and vomiting; and rash. Most people recover without any complications, using pain relievers and bed rest. Dr. Kumar added that once the patient has developed a fever, the infectious period lasts for only one week.

Although Public Health officials expected the test results in early February, they were received only yesterday, Dr. Kumar said. The samples initially were sent to CAREC, which then sent the samples to the Centres for Disease Control in Puerto Rico for confirmation. However, the CDC lab was extremely busy because of an outbreak of dengue there.

To reduce the aedes aegyptii population in Cayman, clear your yards of containers that can hold water, as these are favourite breeding sites. For more advice on mosquito control, contact MRCU on 949-2557 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2223 on Cayman Brac; and DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac.

Dengue Fever Fact Sheet

What Is Dengue Fever? Dengue fever is an acute illness, caused by a virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms include fever, headache, muscle aches, joint pains, pain behind the eyes, and rash. Some cases can be very mild, while others can show disorders in blood clotting, which can result in internal bleeding. This is called the hemorrhagic form. The hemorrhagic form of dengue fever is more severe and is associated with loss of appetite, vomiting, high fever, headache and abdominal pain.

How Prevalent Is Dengue? It is estimated that more than 100 million cases occur worldwide each year. It has become a major international public health concern. It is prevalent in many countries in the Caribbean, and Central and South America, including Jamaica; Honduras; Trinidad and Tobago; Barbados; Guyana; and Puerto Rico.

Dengue is not endemic to the Cayman Islands. We do have imported cases from time to time. Except the three confirmed cases in January, we do not have any more suspected cases under investigation.

How Is Dengue Fever Spread? The aedes aegyptii mosquito gets infected by biting the dengue patient in the first week of illness. It takes about eight to twelve days for the virus to multiply before the infected mosquito can pass it on to others. Aedes aegyptii is a daytime biter, with peak activity in the late afternoon. It cannot be spread directly from one person to another.

How Soon Do Symptoms Occur? After the bite of an infected mosquito, dengue fever usually develops within five to six days. However, it can take as few as three days, or as many as fifteen days. An infected person can be a source of dengue virus for mosquitoes for about five to six days after onset of fever.

How Is Dengue Diagnosed? Doctors suspect the possibility of dengue based on clinical symptoms and signs. Confirmation is by a blood test. It takes about five to ten days to receive the results from overseas laboratories. Sometimes a repeat test is needed two weeks after the first test.

What Is the Treatment for Dengue Fever? No specific treatment for dengue fever exists. Most people recover without complications using pain relievers and bed rest. Aspirin should be avoided.

How Can Dengue Be prevented?

Avoid getting bitten by mosquitoes.

  • Use mosquito repellents on skin and clothing.
  • When outdoors during times that mosquitoes are biting, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks.
  • When indoors, stay in air-conditioned or screened areas.

What Should I Do if I Am Diagnosed with Dengue Fever? Follow the treatment as prescribed by your doctor, and protect yourself from mosquito bites as described above.

Source: Public Health Department, 12 March 2010.

(GIS)

For further information contact: Angela Piercy