December 12, 2019

Cayman: 6 cases of dengue confirmed

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Dengue Case Update

Public Health Officials continue their close collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) to ensure appropriate measures are undertaken to mitigate the health impact in the Islands as the region grapples with more cases of dengue.

Six cases of dengue have been confirmed in the Cayman Islands, with three by local transmission and three imported as on Friday 18th October. The Public Health Department is undertaking island wide community mobilization and awareness initiatives through public education and community meetings to ensure all residents are aware of the important role of the public in preventing the spread of dengue.

The MRCU is also increasing its mosquito control programme with additional measures including thermal fogging to kill biting mosquitoes that can transmit the disease, wide-area aerial spraying, truck-based larviciding directed at containers and barrier spraying directed at sites where mosquitoes rest.

“With the current number of cases in the region, medical personnel are on continued high alert to look for any further locally transmitted and imported cases,” said Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams. “The Ministry of Health has already issued an initial notification last Friday,  11th October as part of a measure to activate heightened surveillance for local presence of the disease”, he added.

So far dengue outbreaks have occurred in many countries in the Caribbean, Central and South America, including Brazil, Columbia, Cuba, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, St. Martin, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Dengue affects the Cayman Islands from time to time. Usually there are no more than ten confirmed cases annually, although thirty-seven was reported in the outbreak of 2012.  Over the last three years, the Cayman Islands experienced a total of four cases; three imported and one locally transmitted. No cases were reported in 2017, and only two imported cases were reported in 2018.

Health Promotion Officer, Therese Prehay, notes “While there is the need to amplify surveillance for early detection, and appropriate response, there is also a great need to increase awareness among the general population on ways to prevent and protect against further spread of the mosquito-borne disease now that there has been cases of local transmission. It is important that we ensure our surroundings are clean and free of mosquito breeding sites. Everyone should take it upon themselves to empty, dispose of, or cover any receptacles or containers capable of storing even small amounts of water. This includes used tyres, water storage drums, flower pots, and tanks, as these are ideal breeding sites for the mosquitoes. Therefore, these key actions will help prevent mosquitoes breeding, thereby keeping yourself, your families and your community safe”, she added.

MRCU will also continue its control efforts, with ongoing work to identify and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds, including remote areas, around the islands. Adding to this, MRCU Director, Dr. Jim McNelly, noted the critical importance of gaining access to homeowners properties to undertake vital surveillance and treatments.

Minster of Health, Hon. Dwayne Seymour, JP encourages the community to continue to stay alert and safeguard themselves and their families against mosquito bites by maintaining a clean environment to reduce potential breeding sites, noting “It will be much, much better for us all in the long run if we stay vigilant, protect ourselves from being bitten, and put every effort into stopping this disease early.”

For more advice on mosquito control, contact MRCU on 949-2557 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2223 on Cayman Brac; and DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman, or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac. 

More about

What is Dengue?

Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease transmitted primarily by the female mosquito of the speciesAedes aegypti, although dengue has also been attributed to Aedes albopictus. Symptoms of the disease include the acute onset of high fever, and at least two of the following:

•           Frontal headache

•           Bone or joint pain

•           Pain behind the eyes

•           Aching muscles

•           A rash may be visible two to five days after the onset of fever

•           Nausea or vomiting

Signs of bleeding (such as pinpoint red or purple spots on the skin, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, blood in urine or stool, or vaginal bleeding) are seen in a severe form of dengue fever known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, severe dengue or dengue shock syndrome.

How is dengue spread?

The Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes get infected by biting a patient infected in the first week of illness. After about 8-10 days of incubation, the infected mosquito is capable of transmitting the virus for the rest of her life. For the mosquito to transmit dengue, it must first bite an infected person. The virus cannot be spread directly from one person to another.

What you can do?

Mosquitos breed in stagnant or standing water, therefore, covering drums and tanks, and cleaning the guttering will get rid of any potential breeding sites. Other stagnant water sources include old tyres, bottles and buckets.  The best way to prevent this disease is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Use physical barriers to protect yourself and your family from bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, especially at dawn and dusk. Using screens on windows and doors and repair holes in screens will keep mosquitos outdoors.  Infants, young children, the elderly and women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant should take extra precautions to avoid mosquito bites.  Everyone should consider using insect repellents containing 50% DEET, Picaridin, IR 3535, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus when going outdoors.  It is important to encourage your families, neighbours and friends to empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water to destroy breeding sites in and around their homes and communities. This will ensure a collective community impact to reduce the spread of dengue in the Cayman Islands.

Source: Cayman Islands Public Health Department

             The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)

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Comments

  1. John Evans says

    I think it’s worth pointing out that there are four strains of dengue with only the hemorrhagic strain being high risk. The other three are (and I speak from personal experience here) about on par with a bad dose of flu and most people recover within a few days. Infection also generates a natural immunity to that particularly strain.

    The Health Ministry has also stated that there’s no dengue vaccine. There is and it’s used in a number of countries, including Mexico. The problem is it’s only effective after someone has been infected.

    I’m guessing from the low key reporting all the cases to date are the less dangerous dengue strains but I remember back in 2007 there was a fatality from hemorrhagic dengue on Grand Cayman. However, the victim had apparently not been infected locally.

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