Mind the mosquitoes

In Cayman, mosquitoes are not only annoying pests, but some species carry serious viral illness. This includes the dangerous Aedes aegypti, which is an invasive species in the Cayman Islands.

This insect acts as a vector, so that when it bites an infected person, it can then transmit the disease to another person it bites subsequently.

During known outbreaks of any of the following viruses, ensure to cover up and keep indoors just after sunrise and before sunset, when the Aedes aegypti is most active.

DENGUE

What is it?

A mosquito-borne viral infection. Cayman has suffered periodic outbreaks of dengue, although the disease is not endemic to these islands.

How does it spread?

Transmitted by bites of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Transported to new areas by infected travellers. Evidence of possible maternal transmission.

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Symptoms

Incubation period of four to 10 days, with symptoms usually lasting two to seven days. Causes a wide spectrum of ailments, from asymptomatic to severe flu-like symptoms, including high fever, headache, pain behind eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, and rash.

Severe dengue can cause serious bleeding and organ damage, plus a risk of death.

Treatment

No specific treatment. Early detection and proper medical care lowers fatality rates. Fever-reducers and painkillers can help symptoms. Avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
drugs (NSAIDs)

Severe dengue requires medical care by experienced professionals.

Prevention

Mosquito control efforts. Prevention of bites. A vaccine is available in some countries, with the World Health Organization recommending it only be given to people with confirmed prior dengue infection.

ZIKA

What is it?

Mosquito-borne virus. Cayman suffered a Zika outbreak towards the end of 2016.

How does it spread?

Transmitted through the bites of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Can also be transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy, through sexual contact, blood transfusions and
organ transplants.

Symptoms

Incubation period of three to 14 days. Majority of people do not develop symptoms. If they do, symptoms are generally mild and last two to seven days. Symptoms include fever, rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache.

Zika infection during pregnancy can cause microcephaly and other congenital malformations and is associated with preterm birth and miscarriage. In adults and children, there is an increased risk of neurologic complications including Guillain-Barré syndrome, neuropathy and myelitis.

Treatment

No specific treatment or vaccine available. Those with symptoms should rest, stay hydrated and treat associated aches and pains.

Prevention

Mosquito control and protection from bites.

CHIKUNGUNYA

What is it?

Viral disease spread to humans by infected mosquitoes. In 2014, Cayman recorded 44 confirmed cases, 28 of which were imported.

How does it spread?

Through the bites of infected mosquitoes, usually Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus.

Symptoms

After bite, onset of illness usually occurs between two to 12 days, and usually between four to eight days. Symptoms include fever, severe joint pain, muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash. Occasional cases of eye, neurological and heart complications, gastrointestinal complaints. Often symptoms are mild, but complications can contribute to cause of death in older people.

Treatment

There is no specific cure. Treatment is focused on relieving symptoms.

Prevention

Mosquito control efforts and protection from mosquito bites.

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