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St. Maarten minister declares dengue epidemic

SATURDAY, 10 AUGUST 2013

~ 101 cases so far for year ~

PHILIPSBURG–Health Minister Cornelius de Weever has declared a dengue epidemic in the country, following the recording of five or more confirmed cases over the past two weeks.

A total of 101 cases have been recorded for the first seven months of this year (January to July). Authorities are calling on the community to take measures to stem the breading of mosquitoes.

In response to the increase of dengue numbers, vector control activities have been stepped up by the Ministry; prompt response to the search of yards and gardens for mosquito breeding sites; stepped up media campaign; fogging activity is also planned as part of this response and will commence as soon as possible, once all logistics are in place, it was stated in a press release.

“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.

“The most effective way to eliminate and/or keep the mosquito population at bay is for every member of the community taking their own personal responsibility and making sure that their yards and surroundings are kept clean by following the recommendations of the Ministry of Public Health.”

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

Dengue symptoms include high fever, severe headache, backache, joint and eye pain, nausea, 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. Persons should avoid self-medication and consult their physician.

Section General Health Care (SGHC) is calling on the population to take daily action 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 their larvae, there won’t be any adult mosquitoes,” it was stated in the release.

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 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.”

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 making them mosquito-free zones.

“SHGC is urgently 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. Persons are urgently recommended to keep their homes, yards, neighbourhoods, open lots and work environment free from mosquito breeding sites,” it was stated in the release.

“Mobilize 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. “On a daily basis, check plants in your yard for mosquito breeding sites, keep vegetation properly trimmed and avoid overgrown vegetation.

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. When out during dusk and dawn hours, use mosquito repellent or wear proper clothing to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. An increase in the mosquito population puts all residences and businesses at risk.”

Additional information on the Aedes Aegypti mosquito breeding sites and respective preventive measures can be obtained by calling tel: 542-2078 or 542-3003 or emailsurveillance@sintmaartengov.org .

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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