Dengue Fever Cases on the Rise in St. Lucia
7 August 2020
Health authorities here are expressing concern over increased cases of dengue fever recorder 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 5-9 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 the highest cases of dengue reported to the Ministry of Health.
She said the Ministry of Health has responded by calling on all communities to exercise caution and support the elimination of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito 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 fever, chikungunya, Zika fever, Mayaro and yellow fever viruses, and other disease agents.
“The mosquito live among humans. The mosquito live in fresh water, in our homes and are daytime feeders,” Dr. Francis said.
“Dengue is found throughout the tropics and it is mainly affected by rainfalls and humidity. Therefore, you find places that have high level of rainfall you tend to get more breeding of the mosquitos as well as in places that have rapid urbanization, 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 share 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. He said: “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.