Dengue fever travel advisory

With the incidence
of dengue fever rising sharply in the Caribbean, Cayman’s public health
officials are closely monitoring for local presence of the disease.

“Although we had three confirmed cases reported in January this year,
there have been no other dengue cases reported since then and the Cayman
Islands is still considered to be dengue free,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar.”However, especially with the
regional outbreak in mind, we are not complacent and medical personnel are on
high alert to look for any local cases.”

Currently, dengue outbreaks are reported in
some countries in the Caribbean and Central America like Honduras, Belize,
Puerto Rico, and Trinidad and Tobago.

“Dengue fever is
caused by a virus, but a mosquito biting a person with dengue fever can spread
the virus to another person. Hence persons, who develop symptoms within two to
three weeks of having returned from countries with dengue cases, are advised to
consult their physician,” Mr. Kumar said.

The symptoms of
dengue are high fever, severe headache, back ache, joint pains, nausea and
vomiting, eye pain, and rash.

The incubation
period – the time that the infection takes to develop before it shows symptoms –
is usually four to seven days; but can be up to three weeks.

There is no vaccine
or specific medication to treat dengue infection, and people travelling to
known dengue endemic countries should take preventative measures such as using
a repellent, wearing protective clothing, using air conditioning indoors or
only opening screened windows and doors, and staying indoors during early dawn
and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. 

Even as there are no local cases of dengue fever, the dengue carrier –
the Aedes aegyptii mosquito – is
present in the Cayman Islands, making transmission of the disease possible.

“The only real protective measure is avoiding mosquito bites,” Mr. Kumar said.

Upon report of a suspected dengue case, the Public Health Department
would immediately inform the Mosquito
Research and Control Unit (MRCU) and the Department of Environmental Health
(DEH) of the suspected case. Those organisations would react as if it was a case
of dengue fever and enhance their mosquito control measures around the
residence of the case.

For more
information, call the Public Health Department on 244-2648 or 244-2621, or
Faith Hospital on 948-2243.

For advice on
mosquito control measures contact the MRCU on 949-2557 or DEH on 949-6696 in
Grand Cayman or 948-2321 in Cayman Brac.