Dengue outbreak numbers decline
Saturday, September 21st, 2013
The number of confirmed dengue fever cases have gone down in San Pedro since the outbreak was first reported a few weeks ago. On Friday, August 23rd the Ministry of Health (MoH) launched the dengue prevention campaign, “Keep San Pedro Dengue Free” due to 19 confirmed cases of dengue fever on Ambergris Caye. A team of ten public health officers were sent to Ambergris Caye to investigate and assist in tackling the dengue outbreak. The team inspected areas that were likely to be a breeding spots for the virus-transmitting mosquito Aedes Aegypti, a striped black and white mosquito. These areas included San Mateo, San Pablo, San Marcos, DFC and Boca del Rio areas.
According to San Pedro Health Inspector, Lisa Tillet the numbers of infected individuals has dropped, as only two confirmed infected cases of dengue have been reported since the initial report. “We will not say that the fear of contracting dengue fever is over, but it is being controlled. Fewer people are reporting dengue fever and that is good,” said Tillet.
According to the MoH, the reason for the spike in dengue fever on the island was due to the constant travelling to exposed countries that are high in numbers of dengue cases, such as El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras over the summer break. “Most case that were reported were not current cases. These people may have already contracted the disease elsewhere. The diversity of residents in San Pedro who are native to these countries and travel to these areas are most likely to be exposed to infected mosquitoes,” said Tillet. The weather has also been a contributing factor to the outbreak. Mosquitos breed in swampy and marshy areas, and due to the heavy rain several areas in San Pedro have become flooded with stagnant water that acts as a habitat for the larvae of mosquitoes. The rain has also affected the San Pedro Town Council’s efforts with the mosquito fogging machine, as the rain washes away the pesticide that is necessary to combat the mosquito population.
The MoH urges residents to take proper precautions to prevent mosquito bites. Screening windows or keeping windows closed at sunset and sunrise can help prevent mosquitoes from entering the home. These are the prime times that mosquitoes feed. Residents should get tested at the Polyclinic if any symptoms of dengue are noted. Symptoms include very high fever, headache, rash, joint and muscle pain and retro-orbital pain (pain behind the eyes). Residents should also avoid having containers that collect water in the yard; such containers should be properly sealed to avoid mosquito breeding sites.
“We encourage people to get tested at the first sign of contracting the disease. Please bear in mind; dengue can kill, especially if it is not the first time one contracts dengue. If you have had dengue before without knowing, you are prone to developing hemorrhagic dengue the second time around, with canencephalopathy, liver damage, residual brain damage, seizures and even death due to shock.”
To get tested for dengue fever, visit the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro PolyClinic II during normal working hours.