Saturday 7 December, 2019

Dengue Fever Alert in Saint Lucia

Saint Lucians are being warned to be on the lookout for the aedes egypti mosquito which transmits the dengue fever disease as reports indicate that Jamaica and the French territories are currently experiencing more cases of the disease than ever before at this time of the year.

Sounding the alert is Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Merlene Fredericks-James, calling on Saint Lucians to do what is necessary to avoid getting the disease.

This is not the time of the year that the Ministry of Health puts out its dengue fever alert. But as the CMO noted, the Ministry felt the need to do so because of the fear that the disease could spread to Saint Lucia as a result of inter-regional travel.

Prior to CMO Fredericks-James coming out with her Ministry’s alert, advisories were being circulated in Saint Lucia about the disease by the Ministry’s Epidemiology Department. the Environmental Health Department, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).

The Ministry of Health usually comes out with the dengue fever alert around or closer to the rainy season, however, as Dr Fredericks-James said, since places like Jamaica, the French territories and other Caribbean countries are experiencing an increased level of the disease at this time Saint Lucians should be alerted to be on their guard.

CMO Fredericks-James said the mosquito is a day-time biting mosquito that likes to breed in and around homes and therefore persons should be mindful to address breeding sites in and around their homes.

She called for water stored to be properly covered, old tyres to be thrown away, drums around the home to be cleaned and covered, rubbish lying around to be gotten rid-off or anything that traps water and pose as a possible breeding site for the mosquito.

Saint Lucia experienced its last dengue fever epidemic in 2013. The disease circulating at the time was known as type four dengue fever.

There were also dengue fever epidemics in 2010, 2011 with types one, two and four. Type three dengue fever was last seen in 2009. According to Dr Frederick-James this 10-year period could place a certain age group at risk as at the moment the results, especially from the French territories, are showing that dengue fever types one and three are in circulation.

“This means that we have a large population who have never been exposed to type three dengue fever before and therefore it is a concern,” she said.

She advised using long sleeve clothing, insect repellent, mosquito screens and other things that could prevent one from being bitten by the mosquito.

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