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Saint Lucia records slight increase in dengue cases for 2018; ministry bolsters preventative methods

By SNO Staff

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(SNO) — The Ministry of Health is reporting a slight increase in the mosquito-borne disease, dengue fever, in Saint Lucia, and said it is ramping up preventative measures to combat it.

Acting National Epidemiologist Dr. Michelle Francois said although dengue fever is endemic to Saint Lucia, it is necessary that measures are put in place to reduce the incidence of this virus.

“We at the Ministry of Health and Wellness, we monitor the trends of dengue on a weekly basis,” she said. “We receive reports from our syndromic reporting. We receive reports from all health care facilities as well as lab reports to confirm the diagnosis of dengue fever in Saint Lucia.”

She said in 2018 a slight increase in the number of cases was reported, mainly in the latter months which, she said, do coincide with what is traditionally seen.

“However, we remain vigilant and we continue to work on our vector-control strategies for 2019,” she stated.

Acting Chief Environmental Health Officer Parker Ragnanan said the Division of Environmental Health will continue to work to fight dengue by reducing mosquito-breeding and the adult mosquito population.

“We have stepped up our surveillance activity in terms of the house-to-house visitation, and looking at breeding sites for the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, because the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is the main culprit in the transmission of the dengue fever,” he said. “And, therefore, we have stepped up our surveillance, and we have also increased the treatment for the larvae. It is the intention of the organization from early February to look at our adult mosquito population. And, as part of that effort, we are going to intensify the fogging operations throughout the island because fogging is really a rapid knock-down of the adult population of the mosquitoes.”

Ragnanan also highlighted that the Division of Environmental Health will strengthen its community and educational programmes to sensitize Saint Lucians about eliminating mosquito-breeding sites.

An estimated 390 million dengue infections occur worldwide each year, with about 96 million resulting in illness, according to WBMD.

It is transmitted by the Aedes Egytpii mosquito.

Symptoms, which usually begin four to six days after infection and last for up to 10 days, may include:

-Sudden, high fever
-Severe headaches
-Pain behind the eyes
-Severe joint and muscle pain
-Fatigue
-Nausea
-Vomiting
-Skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever
-Mild bleeding (such a nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)

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