Suspected dengue cases tested

Three people were hospitalised this
month with suspected dengue fever, health officials said.

The Caribbean Epidemiology Centre
in Trinidad is analysing blood samples from the two men and one woman to
determine if they had the mosquito-borne virus.

All three, who were suffering from
acute viral infections, have already been discharged from hospital and have
recovered.

Test results to confirm if they had
dengue fever will be known within a week, according to the Medical Officer of
Health Dr. Kiran Kumar.

“They were treated and fully
recovered. The patients are no longer infectious even if they had dengue as the
virus stays in the blood of patients for only a week after they develop the
fever. There have been no more reports of similar cases,” Mr. Kumar said.

The first patient was admitted to
hospital in the first week of January and the other two in the second week.

The last two cases of dengue
reported in Cayman – a fatal case of dengue hemorrhagic fever in January 2008
and a case of the less severe dengue fever in which the victim recovered in
January 2009 – were both imported.

Mr. Kumar said none of the three
most recent victims had travelled outside the Islands in recent weeks, so if it
is confirmed that they had dengue, these would be the first locally transmitted
cases reported in the Cayman Islands.

He advised members of the public to
take steps to keep mosquitoes away from their homes and workplaces, by removing
containers that can hold standing water.

“Until we get the results from
Trinidad, we cannot say for sure they had dengue. If the results are negative,
we will let the public know, and if they are positive, we will let people know,
but we did not want to wait for the confirmation because we wanted everyone to
be aware of it and take precautions,” he said.

Symptoms of dengue fever include high
fever, severe headache, backache, joint and eye pain, nausea and vomiting, and a
bright red rash. Most people recover without any complications, using pain
relievers and bed rest.

Mr. Kumar advised anyone suffering
from symptoms to contact a doctor immediately.

Infected aedes aegyptii mosquitoes carry the virus and transmit it to
humans.

Minister of Health Mark Scotland
chaired an interagency meeting on Tuesday to review the Islands’ preventive
measures.

“While dengue is endemic to several
Caribbean and Latin American countries, the Cayman Islands have so far been
fortunate to have low occurrences of dengue cases due to the excellent control
measures of the Mosquito Research and Control Unit and the Department of Environmental
Health as well as the vigilance of the Public Health Department,” Mr. Scotland
said.

It is estimated that more than 100
million cases of dengue occur globally, with cases reported regionally in Bahamas,
Barbados, Belize, Honduras, Nicaragua, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago
and Jamaica, he said.

Staff from the Mosquito Research
and Control Unit and the Department of Environmental Health said their departments
were already taking extra measures to control the aedes aegyptii mosquito.

“People can greatly assist in
reducing the local aedes aegyptii
population by clearing their yards of containers that can hold water as these
are favourite breeding sites for this mosquito,” said MRCU director. William
Petrie said.

For more advice on how to control mosquitoes in your yard contact
the MRCU on 949-2557 in Grand Cayman or 948-2223 on Cayman Brac; and DEH on
949-6696 in Grand Cayman or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac.

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