Ministry of Health Warms of Dengue Outbreak

All text and images in this article courtesy of Lincoln Eiley of Corozal Realty.

National News – Ministry of Health (MOH) places Belize on alert due to regional dengue outbreak. The Ministry of Health issued a press release to the media to inform the general public of recent dengue outbreaks in some of the neighboring Central American countries. Several dengue advisories have been issued in Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador following severe outbreaks infecting as many as 40,000 people and causing 26 deaths across Central America this year. A state of emergency had to be called in Honduras after a dengue outbreak killed 16 people, and over 12,000 more have been diagnosed with the illness in that country. Travelers to these countries are asked to exercise caution. Dengue fever, also called break-bone fever, is an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus and is passed from person to person by mosquitoes. The virus is difficult to treat and unlike malaria, there are no drugs to prevent it. Efforts to develop a vaccine have also been unsuccessful and the World Health Organization estimates that there are about 50-100 million infections every year, although other estimates suggest nearly 390 million. Dengue is most common in Asia and India, but more cases have been popping up in the Caribbean and Latin America in recent years, states a CNN report. The Ministry of Health says that although the number of dengue cases has remained low in Belize during the first part of the year, they continue to execute the Dengue Prevention Plan countrywide. The Ministry is appealing to parents and children during their summer holidays to clean up their yards and properly dispose of old tires and eliminate water-holding containers that may become breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits dengue. The public is advised to take every precaution and seek immediate medical attention if you experience a high fever and any of the following symptoms: headache, pain behind the eyes (retro-orbital pain), joint and muscle pain and rash. Residents are urged to use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites, ensure their homes are properly screened and to keep their house windows open whenever the Ministry of Health is conducting spraying activities in order for the insecticide to reach inside the home.

June 21 - The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) recommends that Member States, especially those that are entering the rainy season with a higher rate of dengue transmission such as Mexico, those in Central America and the Caribbean, continue preparation and response efforts, based on lessons learned and using the Integrated Dengue Management Strategies (IDS-Dengue) approach for prevention and control, with an emphasis on reducing deaths. Current situation From the beginning of 2013 up to epidemiological week (EW) 21, there have been 868,653 cases of dengue, 8,406 cases of severe dengue and 346 deaths (case fatality rate of 0.04%)1 in the Region of the Americas. The circulation of the 4 serotypes in the Region increases the risk of severe forms of dengue. The breakdown of the number of cases, severe cases, deaths and circulating serotypes are available on our website.2 In the first semester of 2013, outbreaks of dengue were registered in Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Paraguay and the Dominican Republic. In places like Peru, cases were registered where there had previously not been locally acquired dengue cases. Given the usual pattern of dengue in the Region, an increase in cases is expected in the coming months in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. This increase would coincide with the rainy season of those countries. This alert is to advise Member States that are entering the period of increased dengue transmission, to continue coordination with other sectors,3 based on the activities in the IDS-Dengue and comprehensive outbreak response plans. Member States are also encouraged to adapt health services to receive a greater volume of patients, as well as strengthening and providing updates for health personnel on detecting warning signs of dengue and on the clinical management of cases.

— Courtesy of Corozal Daily (Sometimes)

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