While Chikungunya and Zika, which swept the region in 2014 and 2016 are not expected back anytime soon, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is warning that the region needs to “gear-up for the possibility of a major outbreak of dengue fever in 2018.”
This, they say, is because the pre-conditions of abundant mosquito vector levels still exist, and already increased levels of dengue are being reported in Latin America and neighbouring regions.
Dengue is a flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults, but can be severe and cause death. Symptoms typically begin four to 10 days after infection. These may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash. This illness can evolve into severe dengue, characterized by potentially deadly complications due to intense and continuous abdominal pain or tenderness, persistent vomiting.
CARPHA says it is imperative, as the rainy season begins in many countries, that efforts to stop mosquitos breeding and biting be stepped up, especially for pregnant women and vulnerable populations.
Mosquitos borne diseases like Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika threaten health, tourism, social and economic development. Therefore, Dengue remains a global health problem and like with Zika and Chikungunya, there is no specific treatment for the disease.
“Although dengue is not new to the Region, we need to gear up for the possibility of a severe outbreak. This virus has been increasing in frequency over the past 30 years. Reports from Latin America and elsewhere show markedly increased reports of dengue in recent months, so we in the Caribbean can expect it will soon be here,” said CARPHA Executive Director, Dr. C. James Hospedales in observance of Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week 2018.
Under the slogan “Fight the bite, destroy mosquito breeding sites”, Caribbean Mosquito Awareness Week, 7-13 May, focused on mosquito-borne diseases and the associated risks.
The measures used for controlling the spread of dengue are the same as those for Zika and Chikungunya as these diseases are transmitted by the same mosquito, the Aedes Aegypti.
The most effective way to avoid getting sick from viruses spread by mosquitoes is to prevent mosquito breeding. Research done by CARPHA and PAHO/WHO show that drums and tires are the main mosquito breeding grounds.
“We need to clean up our surroundings. The two most important things to manage mosquito populations in our Caribbean countries are to manage water storage drums and tanks, and properly dispose of used vehicle tires to prevent mosquitos breeding,” Dr. Hospedales said.