Today’s Editorial for February 4: No one immune to dengue fever

There is a distinct possibility
that up to three residents of Grand Cayman have, for the first time, contracted
dengue fever locally. If confirmed, this means they were bitten by an infected
mosquito here.

There is a popular belief among
many Caymanians and long-time residents that mosquitoes don’t bite them.

It is true that over time some
people can develop a tolerance to the bites of mosquitoes so that their skin no
longer reacts to a bite by forming red, itchy bumps. But this does not mean
that they aren’t getting bitten by mosquitoes.

People who are bitten by a mosquito
carrying the dengue fever virus can get the disease as easily as anyone else,
even if their skin doesn’t react to the bite.

It is therefore important that
everyone, including those who don’t react to mosquito bites, take precautions.

Dengue fever is a potentially fatal
disease that is transmitted exclusively by infected aedes aegypti mosquitoes. Most
people recover from the disease after experiencing symptoms like high fever, nausea,
vomiting, a bright red rash, severe headache, backache, joint aches and pain in
the back of the eyes.  Those that
successfully recover from the virus are at heightened risk of getting a much
more deadly form of the disease should they ever contract it again.

The aedes aegypti mosquito is an
aggressive daytime feeder, usually most active in the early mornings and late
afternoons.  It can bite indoors as well
as outdoors.

People who spend time outdoors in
areas where mosquitoes are active should wear long pants and shirts and use
insect repellent on exposed areas of skin. 
Homes near wooded or wetland areas should make sure that the doors and
windows are sealed or screened so as not to allow the entry of mosquitoes.

Homeowners should also ensure there
are no containers of standing water nearby where mosquitoes can breed.

All residents should be on
heightened alert with regard to mosquitoes, especially if it turns out Cayman
has had its first cases of locally transmitted dengue fever.