Public health watching dengue cases

The Department of Public Health is now dealing with one confirmed and three suspected cases of dengue fever, its director, Dr. Kiran Kumar confirmed Tuesday.

One of the patients suspected to have dengue fever, a visitor, has returned to Jamaica, while the one confirmed and two suspected cases remain on Grand Cayman.

The patient with a confirmed bout of dengue fever recently visited Nicaragua, while the other three had recently been in Jamaica.

The three patients remaining on Cayman are recovering at home, under advice not to go outside and to remain in screened, air-conditioned rooms.

While there is no treatment for dengue fever, the patients are receiving symptomatic treatments, Mr. Kumar explained. While patients with mild cases of dengue fever can remain at home, anyone that developed a more serious case such as hemorrhagic dengue fever would be admitted to the Cayman Islands Hospital, he added

‘The public can be assured that all of our Hospitals – George Town Hospital, Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital and Faith Hospital – are equipped to manage any dengue cases.’

While the patient with the confirmed case presented to a private physician on 4 October, it was not until 15 October that the Department of Public Health was made aware of the confirmed case and the other two suspected cases, explained Mr. Kumar.

Referring to why the Department of Public Health had put out a press release on the 17th stating there were no known cases of dengue fever on the island, Mr. Kumar said there was a communication mix-up after he departed for a conference in Canada on the 16th.

His replacement, Mr. Anna Matthews, was not made aware of the fact there was a confirmed and two suspected cases and subsequent checks did not reveal the cases.

Mr. Kumar will send out a circular to all doctors on island reminding them to report to the Department of Public Health all cases of unusual diseases, such as dengue fever, typhoid, hepatitis, meningitis, and encephalitis. He will also provide information sheets about these diseases that can be distributed to patients.

Reports of dengue fever cases on Grand Cayman have prompted the Mosquito Research and Control Unit to step up efforts against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the potential dengue fever vector.

The MRCU has mobilised crews to treat the areas around where the patients live, in South Sound and West Bay, and are also investigating surrounding neighborhoods for potential Aedes aegypti breeding sites.

Dengue fever symptoms include a sudden onset of fever, with severe headache, muscle and joint pains, usually four to seven days after the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito. Many patients may also develop nausea, vomiting and bright red rashes on chest, arms, legs, and face. However, in milder cases, symptoms can be misdiagnosed as the common flu.

Mr. Kumar urged anyone experiencing similar symptoms to see their doctor immediately.

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