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First Dengue Case Confirmed

As a regional outbreak persists, public health officials have confirmed the first local case of imported dengue fever by a returning resident.

There have been no locally transmitted dengue cases reported in the Cayman Islands so far for this year. Last year saw a total of two confirmed cases (one imported and one with no travel history).

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.

"While dengue fever is not endemic to the Cayman Islands, as there is no sustained transmission of the disease, it is always wise to avoid mosquito bites by covering up during the late afternoon when the dengue carrier, the Aedes aegyptii mosquito, is at its peak," noted Dr. Kiran Kumar, Medical Officer of Health.

"While we need to be alert, and take preventative measures, we need not be alarmed of one case. For Aedes mosquitoes to transmit dengue they must bite infected persons, otherwise they can't become infectious and transmit the disease," he emphasized.

"Hence, persons who develop dengue symptoms within two to three weeks of having returned from countries with dengue cases are advised to consult their physician and inform of their travel history," added Dr. Kumar.

He also reminded the public that they can help reduce the Aedes aegyptii population locally, by clearing 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.

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 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 one imported in 2012 thus far. As there is no sustained transmission, the Cayman Islands are not considered endemic to dengue.

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. 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