The number of people confirmed to have had dengue fever in the Cayman Islands since October stands at eight, while a further person is presumed to have had the tropical disease, the Public Health Department has reported.
But public health officials are confident the disease has not spread locally, as all nine patients had recently travelled to countries with outbreaks of dengue fever.
The eight confirmed and one presumed cases come from a total of 59 people to be tested for the disease since early October. The rest of those tested for the disease have either returned a confirmed negative result or are thought unlikely to have had the disease, the department said.
Although the wet season is now drawing to a close, meaning the number of dengue cases should drop across the region, Director of Public Health Dr. Kiran Kumar said his unit will be keeping a vigilant eye out for cases of dengue fever.
‘We know that this is a time when a lot of people are travelling to other parts of the region that have dengue fever, so we are asking anyone that returns and experiences dengue fever like symptoms to seek medical treatment,’ he said.
Mosquito Research and Control Unit Director Mr. Bill Petrie said the MRCU is finding lower numbers of mosquitoes – including the potential dengue vector, Aedes aegypti – on Grand Cayman because of recent dry weather.
Speaking Thursday morning, he said there could be an upswing of mosquito numbers in Cayman in the coming week, depending on how much rain the remnant low passing over Cayman Thursday and Friday brought.
‘I think we will see a general increase in mosquito numbers but nothing massive,’ he said. ‘We have larvicide pellets down already that are still active. That will give us some measure of protection,’ he said.
‘Making predictions about the weather these days is fraught with danger, but our slow season for mosquitoes in typically from New Year’s onwards,’ he explained.
But Mr. Petrie pointed out that some other countries in the region have continued to experience wetter conditions than the Cayman Islands have in the past month. This could have implications for Cayman, he said.
‘It might happen, that come the first few weeks of the New Year, we may see some more imported cases of dengue fever from people travelling for Christmas and then returning to Cayman,’ he said. ‘We have a contingency place in plan for that, in case it does happen,’ he said.
Imported cases of dengue fever in the Cayman Islands over the past two months come at a time when parts of the Caribbean and Latin American are experiencing some of the worst outbreaks of dengue fever in decades.
Although dengue fever is not endemic to the Cayman Islands, Hurricane Ivan in 2004 spawned a 1,300 per cent increase in the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, a potential dengue fever vector.