Caribbean on Dengue fever alert

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dengue.jpgAs Jamaica records another death caused by dengue fever, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has called for health officials across the region to prepare for the possibility of a severe outbreak of the mosquito borne virus.

In a statement Thursday, CARPHA said the last major regional outbreak of dengue occurred in 2009.

It said, since then, the region has experienced two large outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases - Chikungunya in 2014 and Zika in 2016 -which are unlikely to reoccur soon.

CARPHA said disease modelling predicts that another regional outbreak of dengue may occur in the near future, adding that last year, Latin America showed an increase in the number of cases.

CARPHA has also pointed to the recent outbreak of dengue in Jamaica, saying that it has elevated the level of concern in other Caribbean countries.

The regional health agency is advising countries to implement enhanced measures to reduce mosquito breeding and prevent the spread of disease.

Research carried out by CARPHA and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization shows that drums and tyres are the main mosquito breeding sources in Caribbean countries.

Symptoms of dengue typically begin four to ten days after infection, and include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash.

This illness can evolve to severe dengue, characterized by potentially deadly complications, such as internal hemorrhaging, intense and continuous abdominal pain or tenderness and persistent vomiting.

Jamaica has recorded 79 suspected and presumed confirmed dengue cases since the start of the year.

Speaking at Wednesday night's monthly meeting of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton disclosed that Jamaica recorded 996 cases last year.

He said the Ministry of Health is making progress in controlling the dengue outbreak and it is expected that there will be a lull in cases by March.