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Dengue and Malaria Concerns Increase Alongside COVID-19 in Belize

Although Dengue deaths have not climbed to alarming numbers in Belize, last year there were 10 reported deaths in the country. With the astonishing rise in the number of mosquitos in Ambergris Caye and the country, Belizeans are calling the Ministry of Health to provide relief through the spraying of malathion.

As if the COVID-19 pandemic and the active hurricane season are not alarming enough, there are other issues that Belize is looking at, including malaria and dengue. Health specialists in Yucatan, Mexico just indicated there there are now cases of COVID-19 patients also infected with dengue. They are calling the condition ‘Covidengue’. Both viruses can coexist in a single patient and when presenting some similar symptoms, they can be confused and pose a more serious health risk and death rate.

Dr. Marvin Manzanero, Director of Health Services says that Vector Control is aware and  monitoring the Dengue situation across the country and not only in Belize City where most of the concerns were initially from. More targeted spraying is taking place in areas more prone to mosquito breeding.

“Ideally we would want to spray everywhere but you would understand that we have limited resources in terms of trucks and human resources and the schedule,” commented Dr. Manzanero. “It’s not spraying one time but you need to factor that you’ll have to come back and spray at a specific time.”

Dr. Manzanaro stated that they are monitoring where the Dengue cases are occurring and those are becoming the priority areas where the specific spraying process takes place. The spraying of malathion has to be conduced a few times for it to be effective and cannot be carried out when it is raining; scheduling and shortage of malathion are factors that affect spraying.

“Beyond that I think we need to stress also because we keep hearing about spraying but understand that spraying is not the only solution to the mosquito situation,” stressed Dr. Manzanero. “We had ten deaths last year we can have the same amount of deaths this year if we don’t do a collective effort in trying to curtail the mosquito population. So I would also call on the communities to be actively involved in the elimination of breeding sites rather than just anticipating and waiting that the truck is going to come around to do the spraying.”

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