Case of Dengue Confirmed

| 13/02/2009

(CNS): A patient who contracted dengue fever on a visit to Curacao in January has been released from the Cayman Islands Hospital. The Public Health Department insists that there is no evidence of local transmission of dengue in the Cayman Islands and that the person is no longer infectious. Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar confirmed that this is the first case since January 2008 and that it was contracted elsewhere. The patient is fully recovered and is no longer infectious as the virus stays in the blood of patients for only a week after they develop the fever, he said.

“Dengue is not directly transmitted from person to person, 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 considered imported,” Dr Kumar explained.

While the PHD had to wait two to four weeks for laboratory confirmation, it immediately informed the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) and the Department of Environmental Health (DEH) of the suspected case, and they took measures as if it was a case of dengue fever, a government release says.

Dengue fever is caused by a virus, and the virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. The symptoms of dengue are high fever, severe headache, backache, 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.

“The only real measure to protect ourselves is to avoid being bitten,” Dr. Kumar said, adding that irrespective of the fact that this confirmed case was imported, all members of the public need to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

“Because we have the Aedes aegyptii mosquito, which is the vector involved in the spread of dengue fever, in the Cayman Islands, we do have potential for transmission if a returning resident or a visitor has the dengue virus – and mild cases may go unnoticed.”

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.

According to PHD, countries in our region who reported having dengue and dengue hemorrhagic fever are: Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadaloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Puerto Rico, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

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