No local dengue transmission

Six people are confirmed to have had dengue fever recently in the Cayman Islands, but there remains no evidence that mosquitoes are transmitting the disease locally.

The six patients have now recovered from the disease and are no longer infectious, a GIS press release said Monday.

47 people have now been tested for the disease, 25 of which have returned negative initial test results.

Those that have returned negative initial results are awaiting confirmation from a second round of testing, which is necessary because it takes a minimum of five to seven days after symptoms develop for the test to detect the disease. As of Monday, only two patients had received confirmed negative results for the disease.

The latest figures are up from five confirmed cases from a total of 39 tests at the last update on 9 November.

27 of the 47 individuals tested for the disease have no travel history to countries with dengue fever, although Acting Public Health Director Dr. Anna Mathews said most of the tests were ordered to eliminate dengue fever and were not necessarily carried out because dengue fever was suspected.

Meanwhile, Mosquito Research and Control Unit Director Dr. Bill Petrie is warning that the risk of the disease being transmitted locally has not passed, saying residents need to stay vigilant in preventing the Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding.

Mr. Petrie said that although there are indications that Cayman’s mosquito season is coming to an end, other countries in the region continue to experience wet conditions conducive to mosquito breeding and the spread of dengue fever.

‘That means that dengue fever cases in those countries won’t be dying down,’ he explained. ‘We need to expect that that could translate into a continuation of people coming from those areas and potentially bringing the disease with them.’

Mr. Petrie said he was concerned to get reports that some people in the community are labouring under the misunderstanding that the disease is being brought to Cayman by mosquitoes.

‘It is people that are bringing dengue fever into the country with them when they return from areas with dengue fever outbreaks,’ Mr. Petrie said. ‘Everyone needs to be very clear about that.’

Local transmission would become possible if an Aedes aegypti mosquito bit a person infected with dengue fever and then passed it on to another person by biting them.

Mr. Petrie again urged people to look after themselves and their families by clearing all standing water around their houses and workplaces. This is important, he explained, because the Aedes aegypti mosquito, a day biting mosquito, predominately breeds around homes and businesses.

Though he expects mosquito populations to die down as the Island heads into winter, Mr. Petrie said the MRCU are preparing for the possibility of an increase in imported dengue fever cases after Christmas, as people return from areas in the region with dengue outbreaks.

The imported cases of dengue fever happen at a time when parts of the Caribbean and Latin America are reporting some of the worst outbreaks of dengue fever in decades.

So far this year, 643, 123 cases of dengue fever have been recorded throughout the Caribbean and Latin America and 186 people have died as a result.

Although dengue fever is not endemic to Cayman, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 spawned a 1,300 per cent increase in the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a potential dengue fever vector.

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