St. Lucia records increase in dengue cases

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St. Lucia records increase in dengue cases
Michelle Francois

By Anicia Antoine
(GIS) — The Ministry of Health and Wellness has launched its Vector Awareness Week of activities to engage the public on the importance of source reduction as an effective means of prevention of vector borne-illnesses.

Dengue fever, together with associated dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), is one of the most common vector-borne viral diseases affecting humans. Aedes aegypti, the urban yellow fever mosquito, is also the principal dengue-carrying vector.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness is urging members of the public across the island to take the necessary steps to ensure that the mosquito population is contained.

National Epidemiologist Dr. Michelle Francois said: “Mosquitoes as previously indicated live among humans, in freshwater, and they live in our homes. They are daytime feeders so when you get a bite from a mosquito you usually see these white lines on the legs and during the day it tends to be the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Dengue is found throughout the tropics and is mainly affected by rainfall and humidity. So you find in areas where you have high levels of rainfall you tend to get more breeding of the mosquitoes as well as places with rapid urbanization, places that have developed suddenly and do not have the measures in place to control waste disposal.”

The national epidemiologist noted that there has been an increase in the number of cases compared to last year with 41 cases of dengue having been recorded to date. Dr. Francois noted that regional authorities have warned that dengue outbreaks should be expected in 2020.

“We have also noted for this year to date, the age group most affected would be children aged 5 to 9, followed by the age group 10 to 14 but there hasn’t been any difference in the sexes. The areas that we have noted with the highest prevalence are the areas of Reduit, Morne Road, Castries City, Millet, and Monier.”

Dr. Glenford Joseph, medical officer in the Ministry of Health, highlighted the importance of taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of dengue, as the Dengue virus and COVID-19 share similar symptoms.

“Co-infection is where one person is impacted by both COVID-19 and dengue as observed in other countries. As a result, it is important for us to take all measures to prevent the transmission or spread of dengue and COVID-19,” he said.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness continues to encourage individuals to maintain public health and social measures that have been put in place to ensure the health and safety of the public.

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