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Sharp increase in dengue cases confirmed on St. Maarten in August

MONDAY, 02 SEPTEMBER 2013

~ 167 since January, fogging to start soon ~

PHILIPSBURG–The number of confirmed dengue fever cases continued to increase “significantly.”

Figures released Sunday show that the number of confirmed cases in August alone was 66. The Health Ministry’s Section General Public Health (SGPH) said the number of cases from January to the end of July was 101 and to the end of August, 167.

The two districts that have seen the highest cases of confirmed dengue fever are Simpson Bay and Cole Bay, followed by Cay Hill and Belvedere.

The strains of dengue circulating on the island are dengue-2 and -4, which have been identified by authorities from the French side. The age groups with the most reported cases are 25-44 and 45-64.

SGPH urges residents and businesses to step up measures to mitigate the rise in dengue fever caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.

Minister of Public Health Cornelius de Weever’s “Get Checked” campaign is in line with the urgent 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 make them mosquito-free zones, it was stated in a press release on Sunday.

The logistics for mosquito-fogging are just about complete and a schedule for district-fogging will be issued as soon as fogging vector control activities get underway for September, it was stated in the release.

“Residents must bear in mind that fogging is not a total solution to eliminate mosquitoes. Fogging activity is kept to a minimum in order to prevent the mosquito population from developing immunity to the chemicals that are deployed and, therefore, is only used when really necessary,” it was stated in the release.

Fogging is one intervention of several and the main measure is for every household and business to take action by removing potential mosquito-breeding spots in and around their premises on a daily basis. Elimination of mosquitoes is an individual responsibility, a community responsibility, it was explained in the release.

Residents must bear in mind that rain events can disrupt mosquito-fogging activities, so the district schedule will be adjusted accordingly and this will be communicated to the community in a timely manner, the release stated.

Residents with dengue fever symptoms are requested to consult with their family physician, who can then refer them to the lab for a test that would confirm if they have dengue or not, and give the proper advice to ensure a healthy recovery, avoiding other health risks.

Dengue symptoms include high fever, severe headache, backache, joint and eye pain, nausea and vomiting, and rash. Once a person has developed a fever, the infectious period lasts for about a week. Most people recover without any complications, using pain relievers, liquid intake (preferably water or juice) and bed rest. Self-medication is discouraged; instead one’s physician should be consulted.

SGHC called on the population to take daily actions to eliminate mosquito-breeding opportunities 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 secured and screened to prevent mosquitoes from entering. If there aren’t any containers with water for mosquitoes to lay the larvae, there won’t be any adult mosquitoes.”

Dengue fever is transmitted by the female vector Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is distinguished by its markings: its body has alternate black and white horizontal stripes. The female mosquito lays her eggs in clear stagnant water. Within eight days the mosquito can complete its life cycle from egg to larvae to pupae and to adult mosquito.

“Even after you have cleaned 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. Mobilise family, friends, neighbours and colleagues to collectively take actions to eliminate mosquito-breeding sources.”

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, it was stated in the release.

It is also recommended to check plants in the yard for mosquito-breeding sites on a daily basis, to keep vegetation properly trimmed and to avoid overgrown vegetation. One should check around construction sites or do-it-yourself improvements to ensure that proper backfilling and grading is realised to prevent drainage problems, which can be a source of standing water. It is suggested to use mosquito repellent or wear proper clothing to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, when out during dusk and dawn hours.

An increase in the mosquito population puts all residents and businesses at risk. For more information call: 542-2078 or 542-3003 or e-mail

surveillance@sintmaartengov.org

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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