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Dengue Update

As a regional outbreak persists, Medical Officer of Health, Dr.Kiran Kumar has confirmed seven cases of dengue fever. Of the seven cases, three have reported a travel history to endemic countries and four have no travel history, suggesting the dengue was transmitted locally.

"While there are only a few confirmed cases, there is a possibility that there are some

persons with mild dengue symptoms who have not sought medical attention. I am therefore requesting that our residents be alert, take preventative measures, and do not panic. The Mosquito, Research and Control Unit (MRCU) has been informed of all cases under investigation in order that adequate mosquito control measures can be taken. For the Aedes aegypti mosquito to transmit dengue, it must bite an infected person and then bite others. Hence, it is essential for everyone to avoid mosquito bites by covering up during the late afternoon when the dengue carrier, the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is at its peak," Dr.Kumar emphasized.

"I want to assure the public that the Mosquito Research & Control Unit has already intensified its efforts in the areas where most of the cases were confirmed, and since Monday included aerial operations, ground spraying, thermal fogging and larviciding, in their operations, said Dr. William Petrie, Director, MRCU.

Health Minister, Honourable Mark Scotland, stated, "I am pleased to know that the necessary steps are being taken by the Public Health department and MRCU. I encourage every resident to do their part and ensure that all containers and other items that can store water are removed from their yards in order to discourage the breeding of the mosquitoes".

In 2010, there were 61 dengue investigations, resulting in seven confirmed.

dengue cases, four of whom had no travel history. In 2011, there were 21 investigations, two were confirmed positive, one of whom had no travel history. As of 12 October, 2012, 26 cases have been investigated, seven are confirmed positive, eight tested negative, and results are pending for the remaining eleven.

So far this year, 17 of 23 Caribbean countries have reported over 1,500 confirmed dengue fever cases. According to the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre (CAREC) Surveillance Report, as of August 2012, Belize, Guyana, Suriname, Jamaica and Curacao account for approximately 87% of the cases reported in the region.

Recently, Jamaica reported 1215 suspected dengue cases and five suspected deaths. About half of the suspected dengue cases have occurred in the areas of Kingston and St. Andrew. Persons travelling to endemic areas are advised to avoid mosquito bites, and if they develop dengue symptoms within two to three weeks of returning from travel, they are advised to consult their physician and inform of their travel history.

For more advice on mosquito control, contact MRCU on 949-2557 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2223 in Cayman Brac; and DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac.

Countries in our region that reported having dengue fever:

Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kits and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Maarten, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

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 the severe form of dengue, also called the hemorrhagic form. The hemorrhagic form of dengue fever 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. In the Cayman Islands there were two cases (one imported and another without any travel history) in 2011 and three imported and four local cases in 2012 thus far.

How is dengue fever spread?

The aedes aegypti 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 aegypti is a daytime biter, with peak activity in the late afternoon. The virus 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. Laboratory confirmation is not essential for the management of dengue cases as the treatment is symptomatic. 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.

- Ensure that the area around your residence is free from mosquito breeding sites such as buckets or any other containers.

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.

For further information contact: Yvette Cacho