St Lucia worried about increase in dengue fever cases

St Lucia worried about increase in dengue fever cases

Saturday, August 08, 2020

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CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) — Health authorities here are expressing concern over increased cases of dengue fever recorded, with more than 40 cases of the virus being recorded so far this year when compared to the same period last year.

“We've noted to date that the age group most affected would be five to nine years, so our kids are being affected followed by the age group 10-14 years,” said National Epidemiologist Dr Michelle Francois, adding that various areas across the island have reported an increase in dengue cases to the Ministry of Health.

He said the Ministry of Health has responded by calling on all communities to exercise caution and to support the elimination of the Aedes aegypti mosquito's or the yellow fever mosquito's breeding sites to help combat the virus.

The mosquito is the main carrier leading to the spread of dengue, chikungunya, Zika, Mayaro and yellow fever viruses, and other diseases.

“The mosquito lives among humans. The mosquito lives in fresh water, in our homes, and are daytime feeders,” Dr Francois said.

“Dengue is found throughout the tropics and it is mainly affected by rainfall and humidity. Therefore, you find places that have high levels of rainfall you tend to get more breeding of the mosquitos, as well as in places that have rapid urbanisation, places that have developed suddenly and do not have measures in place to control waste disposal,” he added.

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and other experts have pointed to climate change as one of the leading causes for the surge in numbers, with poor environmental management and increased adaptability of mosquitoes listed as other causes.

Health officials say it is extremely important now more than ever to safeguard against contracting dengue fever, as it shares similarities with that of the coronavirus.

“It is important for us to take all measures to prevent the transmission or spread of dengue and COVID-19,” said Dr Glenford Joseph, medical officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

“If you think, based on your symptoms, that you have either dengue or COVID-19, it is important that you take the necessary steps, the necessary measures – protecting against the transmission of COVID-19 while you seek medical advice.”

Symptoms of dengue fever include high fever, headache, muscle, bone and joint pain as well as nausea. Vomiting, pain behind the eyes and swollen glands are also symptoms.

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