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Health Officials Monitoring Dengue Cases in San Pedro, Belize

Earlier this month The Ministry of Health sent a press release on several dengue advisories issued by neighboring countries in Central America. Although the number of confirmed dengue cases has remained low in Belize during this first part of the year, the Ministry of Health continued to execute its Dengue Prevention Plan countrywide.
Ambergris Today spoke with the Medical Director of the Dr. Otto Rodriguez Poly Clinic II, Dr. Jerry Lanza who confirmed that indeed there is an outbreak of Dengue in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Although the mosquito carrier for dengue has not been officially confirmed on the island, there have been confirmed cases of dengue on the island.

“We have been dealing with several cases of patients coming into the clinic with symptoms of dengue and they are being treated,” stated Dr. Lanza. “Although I cannot confirm to you in figures as to how many patients are positive, I can affirm that there is an outbreak here on the island.”

Dr. Lanza stated that they are currently performing inspections in residential areas and fumigations are also taking place. He also advises everyone to clean their houses, properties and to destroy or eliminate stagnant water or any possible place where the mosquito can reproduce itself.

The public is also encouraged to take every precaution including the following:
1. 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.

2. Do not take any medication that contains Aspirin, and drink lots of liquids;

3. Use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites;

4. Ensure your home is properly screened;

5. Keep house windows open whenever the Ministry of Health is conducting spraying activities in order for insecticide to reach mosquitoes inside the home.

* What is Dengue?
It is an infectious disease caused by a virus and is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. There are two types of Dengue; (i) Dengue (ii) Dengue Hemorrhagic. Dengue Hemorrhagic is when a person that is already affected by Dengue gets bitten a second time, then develops Dengue Hemorrhagic which in most cases is fatal.

Dengue cannot be transmitted by direct contact by someone who is already infected; it can only be transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito after it has fed on sick person’s blood. The mosquito can travel for very long distances and thus it can contaminate people from different communities or different areas in the same community. This day-biting species is most active in early morning and late afternoon.  

     *Sudden and sharp high fever (104 to 105 degrees Fahrenheit) that last for five or seven days.
     *Intense pain on the muscles, joints, back, bones, head and eyes.
     *Shin rash, vomiting and diarrhea
     *Bitter taste in the mouth, loss of appetite
     *Some patients can suffer from bleeding episodes in ears and other body parts.
     *Dengue Hemorrhagic is particularly serious. It can be fatal especially for children under 15.   
     *Hemorrhagic manifestations (unusual bleeding from the gums/heavy menstrual bleeding/unexplained bruises).
    * General Weakness

There is no treatment or vaccine available for Dengue. If a person is infected he should drink plenty of liquids and rest in bed. He should take some medications to reduce the fever, malaise and intense pain. No aspirin should be taken. If a person suspects that he could have Dengue Hemorrhagic he should immediately go to the nearest medical center.

General Characteristics of the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes:
These mosquitoes need accumulated and uncovered water for its reproduction so that they lay and rear their eggs. This process can take place both in clean or dirty water. They can develop in any type of receptacle such as bottles, discarded tires, flower vases, roof water drainage, tin cans and toys, as well as in natural water areas such as ponds, tree holes, fruit peels and plants. These mosquitoes develop in both rural and urban areas but mostly bite during the daytime. These are ideal breeding sites for the mosquito that transmits Dengue. With the elimination of breeding sites in and around the yard, Dengue can be avoided.  

The public is also encouraged to use mosquito repellent spray or lotion on the body or clothing, and to stay in well-screened areas. Dengue Fever is a disease that must be taken very seriously, in particular if you have had these symptoms in the past, and every effort should be made to keep yourself, your family and your community safe by maintaining a clean environment.

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