Cayman Islands government health authorities waited at least 48 hours to tell the public about several locally transmitted cases of dengue fever.
The reason for the delay, according to the Health Services Authority Medical Officer of Health Dr. Kiran Kumar, was because there is a protocol to follow before information is released to the public.
“There is a whole process to follow with regard to getting information to the public. First, the press release has to be drafted and as you know I am not a journalist, then it has to go to the ministry for approval and so forth,” Dr. Kumar said.
The admission by the Cayman Islands Public Health Department last Thursday of seven confirmed cases of dengue in the Cayman Islands came two days after the Caymanian Compass requested information regarding the matter on Tuesday from the Mosquito Research and Control Unit. On Tuesday, the newspaper was told questions had to go to the Ministry of District Administration and Works.
Calls to the Health Services Authority seeking comment prior to Thursday were also unsuccessful in eliciting a response.
“We knew of the seven cases on Tuesday, but we had to wait until Thursday because there is a process,” said Dr. Kumar, who explained that “nothing happened as a result of the delay.
“Whether you know on Tuesday or Thursday has no value.”
Dr. Kumar said that a public health news release was put out quickly to report that there were one or two cases of dengue fever in Grand Cayman in late September. Those cases were said to be as a result of overseas contamination, not from locally transmitted cases.
That release was followed by a statement from the Mosquito Research and Control Unit on Friday, 12 October about increased operations by the agency in West Bay.
“Mosquito Research and Control Unit will be stepping up its patrols in the West Bay area in an effort to keep Aedes aegypti, the dengue mosquito, under control. While there is nothing for residents to be concerned about, the unit will be carrying out additional ground operations as well as early evening aerial missions on Tuesdays and Thursdays going forward to ensure the local pest is kept under control,” read the MRCU statement.
Health officials have since confirmed that the dengue outbreak has been in the District of West Bay.
As it stands at the moment, there are seven confirmed cases of dengue in Grand Cayman. Eight individuals have tested negative for the disease, while 16 other potential cases remain undetermined.
Part of the reason Dr. Kumar said delays in public reporting can occur is because the department is waiting on the results of undetermined cases.
The mosquito control unit has responded to the dengue transmission by targeting the adult Aedes aegypti mosquito population. Spray teams have been working in West Bay to treat yards in the area where transmission has occurred. In addition to this, survey teams have been treating all containers capable of harbouring mosquito larvae. Evening spray operations have been carried out in the area and aerial adulticide missions have been carried out to specifically target the mosquito vector of dengue. Work will continue for the next few weeks to ensure that the transmission cycle is broken, officials said.