St Lucia Health Authorities Issue Dengue Fever Warning

(CMC) — Health authorities here today warned the population to take all precautions to prevent the spread of the dengue fever given the rapid onset of the rainy season.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness said that dengue fever is one of the most common vector-borne viral illnesses affecting humans, transmitted through the bite of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito, and to a lesser extent the Aedes albopictus.

“Four serotypes of dengue exist. However, persons receive lifelong immunity against a serotype once infected with it. Only serotypes two and three have been recorded to date in St Lucia, with the majority of the cases being children,” the ministry said.

Earlier this month, the ministry reported a “significant increase in dengue cases on island” and continued local transmission which often peaks during and after rainy seasons.

While it gave no figures, the ministry said most of the reported cases are concentrated in the northern, central and eastern parts of the island.

Chief Environmental Health Officer Parker Ragnanan said intervention measures being undertaken by the Environmental Health Division include lava siding and fogging. He urged householders and property owners to inspect their properties at least twice a week in an effort to contain the Aedes aegypti mosquito population.

Ragnanan said it is necessary for the community to work together to prevent local transmission of dengue fever and called attention to the indiscriminate dumping of garbage, which also serves as breeding ground for the mosquito.

“Very often, what we find is one household doing all that it can by taking preventative measures, but two households away, nobody cares. Mosquitoes have a very long flight range; they can travel up to a mile depending on the wind direction and wind speed, so that means to establish a safe zone, preventative measures need to be taken within a mile-wide perimeter of one’s household,” he said.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness said dengue viral disease has an incubation period of four to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

It said persons with mild dengue may present with fever, accompanied by rash, nausea/vomiting, pain behind the eye, muscle and joint pain. In its more severe form, persons may progress to bleeding from the gums or nose, vomiting blood and passing blood in the stool.