Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Health officials warn about an increase in dengue cases and gastrointestinal infections


Following the torrential rains caused by weather disturbances such as Hurricane Julia, the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) issued warnings about possible infectious diseases, chemical hazards, and injuries. The public is urged to avoid working or playing in floodwaters. According to health sources in San Pedro Town, an increase in Dengue cases and gastroenteritis infections have been reported in the Belize District.
In many subdivisions around San Pedro, stagnant water can be observed on the street sides and empty lots. At a closer look, large clouds of mosquito larvae can be seen floating on the water. MOHW advises people near these areas to exercise caution to prevent mosquito bites. This could cause Dengue and other vector-borne diseases. While a plan by the local authorities to address the expected mosquito problem is yet to take place, residents are asked to protect themselves by using long-sleeved clothing, long pants, and mosquito repellent. In addition, it is recommended that windows be adequately screened or closed before nightfall. More importantly, clean surroundings and remove containers with standing water that can become breeding sites for mosquitoes.
To avoid intestinal infections and other diseases in flooded areas, treat tap water used in cooking, drinking, and bathing with bleach. The recommendation is one tablespoon of bleach to five gallons of water. After mixing the water with the bleach, let it stand for 30 minutes before using it. To purify drinking water, boil it for one minute. The water can also be treated with purification tablets. These tablets should be used according to the directions on the package.
The public is encouraged to be safe during this time and to do their part to avoid an outbreak of these deadly illnesses. Dengue cases, for example, affects many Belizeans every year. In 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, the disease was on the brink of becoming an epidemic on the island. The worst part about this vector-borne disease is that no vaccine or specific treatment exists. Doctors would typically ask the patient to rest, stay hydrated and treat the symptoms (fever and pain) with drugs such as acetaminophen.

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