Dengue fever alert issued

With recent reported outbreaks of dengue fever in parts of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Central and South America, the Public Health Department is advising people travelling to any of these countries to take precautions to reduce the risk of being infected.

In a press release Wednesday, the Public Health Department called on those travelling through these areas to use a repellent such as Off! as much as possible, wear protective clothing limiting skin exposure, use air conditioning and only open screened windows and doors, and to reduce outdoor activities during early dawn and dusk.

Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Anna Matthews says that while there are no known active cases in the Cayman Islands, the Public Health Department is closely monitoring the situation and is encouraging individuals who may have travelled recently to any of countries with an outbreak of dengue fever and who are experiencing flu like symptoms to immediately contact their Physician or the Public Health Department.

Symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, with severe headache, muscle and joint pains, and bright red rashes that usually appear first on the lower limbs and the chest. In some patients, it spreads to cover most of the body and can be accompanied by abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Ms Matthews said some cases develop much milder symptoms, which can be misdiagnosed as the common flu or some other viral infection when no rash is present.

Although dengue fever is not endemic to the Cayman Islands, Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that is capable of carrying dengue fever, has reestablished itself on Grand Cayman since hurricane Ivan. The Mosquito Research and Control Unit has previously expressed concern that someone carrying dengue fever could be bitten by an aedes aegypti mosquito, enabling the disease to spread here.

There are no treatments available for dengue fever.

For more information, call the Public Health Department on 244-2630 or 244-2621, or Faith Hospital on 948-2243. For advice on mosquito control measures, contact the MRCU on 949-2557 or the DEH on 949-6696 in Grand Cayman or 948-2321 on the Brac.

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