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76 confirmed dengue fever cases on St. Maarten during past six months


~ Residents urged to take preventative measures ~

PHILIPSBURG–There were 76 confirmed cases of dengue fever in St. Maarten over the past six months (January to June) indicating an increase in reported cases, the Health Ministry’s Section General Health Care (SGHC) reported on Wednesday.

There were a total of 301 laboratory requests. The highest number of cases, 23, was reported in June. A total of 15 cases were reported in January; 14 in February; eight in March, six in April and 10 in May.

SGHC is calling on the population to take daily actions to eliminate mosquito breeding places around their home and workplace. “On a daily basis check containers such as buckets and water tanks for larvae and eliminate the breeding source. Water tanks should be properly secure and screened to prevent mosquitoes from entering,” SGHC said. “If there are no containers with water for mosquitoes to lay the larvae there will be no adult mosquitoes.”

Dengue Fever is transmitted by the female vector Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is distinguished by its markings. The body of the mosquito has alternate black and white horizontal stripes. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito lays her eggs in clear (clean) stagnant water. Within eight days the mosquito can complete its life cycle from egg, to larvae to pupae and to an adult mosquito.

“Even after you have cleaned-up your yard and surroundings, it is recommended for persons to walk around their surroundings on a weekly basis and after every rain event to eliminate all possible breeding sites,” it was stated in a press release.

Minister of Public Health Cornelius de Weever’s “Get Checked” campaign is in line with the appeal for residents and business owners to check in and around their homes and businesses in order to reduce breeding sites of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and making them mosquito-free zones.

SGHC is calling on the community especially homeowners to be proactive in implementing mosquito preventive measures on their own property in order to prevent vector borne diseases. “Mobilize family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to collectively take actions to eliminate mosquito breeding sources,” it was stated in the release.

Persons are urged to keep their homes, yards, neighbourhoods and work environment free from mosquito breeding sites. Homeowners can reduce the number of areas where adult mosquitoes can find shelter by cutting down weeds adjacent to the house foundation and in their yards, and mowing the lawn regularly. “On a daily basis check plants in your yard for mosquito breeding sites, keep vegetation properly trimmed, and avoid overgrown vegetation. When out during dusk and dawn hours, use mosquito repellent or wear proper clothing to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes,” it was stated in the release.

“Check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvements to ensure that proper backfilling and grading is realized to prevent drainage problems which can be a source for standing water.”

An increase in the mosquito population puts all residents and businesses at risk. Call for information on the Aedes Aegypti mosquito breeding sites and respective preventive measures at 542-2078 or 542-3003.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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