Five people are now confirmed to have had dengue fever recently in the Cayman Islands while a further two have returned positive preliminary tests.
Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar said Friday the five confirmed and two presumed cases were all imported, with the patients having returned from places with outbreaks of dengue.
‘Thus we can say that so far there is no evidence of local transmission in the Cayman Islands,’ he said in a GIS press release.
Because the virus stays in the patient’s blood for only a week after the patient develops symptoms, the confirmed cases are now no longer infectious, Mr. Kumar explained.
Tests on a further 25 suspected cases indicate they are unlikely to be positive for dengue, but these results have yet to be confirmed.
Once a patient returns a negative test they need to be re-tested, because it takes a minimum of five to seven days after symptoms develop for the test to detect the disease, Mr. Kumar has previously explained.
Doctors on Grand Cayman have so far tested 39 people for dengue fever.
Mr. Kumar said most of these tests were routinely ordered to eliminate the existence of dengue fever.
Since reports of dengue fever cases on Grand Cayman first emerged on 18 October, health authorities have been describing the cases as either positive, negative or suspected.
However, Mr. Kumar said the label suspected dengue cases does not necessarily mean dengue fever was suspected.
‘These reported inflated numbers from precautionary actions have led to headlines, causing unwarranted public concern, as if dengue is a big problem here – although in the body of these articles the details did indicate that that was not so,’ he claimed.
Although dengue fever is not endemic in the Cayman Islands, the Aedes aegypti mosquito – the dengue vector – is present on Grand Cayman and its population is estimated to have surged by 1,300 per cent in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan.
Although there remains no evidence of local transmission of the disease, Mr. Kumar warned residents to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
‘The only real measure to protect ourselves is to avoid being bitten,’ he said, adding there is no vaccine to protect against the disease.