Dengue fever grips Saint Lucia amid COVID-19 pandemic
Saint Lucia has recorded increased cases of dengue fever for 2020 when compared to the previous year 2019.
To date, over 40 cases of the virus have been recorded, leaving local health officials concerned.
“We’ve noted to date that the age group most affected would be 5-9, so our kids are being affected followed by the age group 10-14 years,” National Epidemiologist, Dr Michelle Francois disclosed.
“The areas of Reduit, Millet, Old Victoria Road, Morne Road, Monier and Trois Piton areas have the highest cases of dengue reported to the Ministry of Health,” Dr Francois said.
As a result of this, the Ministry of Health has called on all communities across the island to exercise caution and support the elimination of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito or the yellow fever mosquito’s breeding sites to help combat the virus.
The mosquito is the main carrier leading to the spread of dengue fever, chikungunya, Zika fever, Mayaro and yellow fever viruses, and other disease agents.
“The mosquito live among humans,” Dr Francois said, observing, "The mosquito lives in fresh water, in our homes and are daytime feeders."
The mosquito can be recognized by white markings on its legs and a marking in the form of a lyre on the upper surface of its thorax.
Francois says: “Dengue is found throughout the tropics and it is mainly affected by rainfalls and humidity. Therefore, you find places that have high level of rainfall you tend to get more breeding of the mosquitos as well as in places that have rapid urbanization, places that have developed suddenly and do not have measures in place to control waste disposal.”
The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and other experts have pointed to climate change as one of the leading causes for the surge in numbers, with poor environmental management and increased adaptability of mosquitoes listed as other causes.
Health officals say it is extremely important now, more than ever, to safeguard against contracting dengue fever as it share similarities with that of the coronavirus.
“It is important for us to take all measures to prevent the transmission or spread of dengue and COVID-19,” Dr Glenford Joseph, Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health and Wellness said.
“If you think based on your symptoms that you have either dengue or COVID-19, it is important that you take the necessary steps, the necessary measures, protecting against the transmission of COVID-19 while you seek medical advice,” Joseph lamented.
Symptoms of dengue fever include:
- High fever
- Muscle, bone and joint pain
- Pain behind the eyes
- Swollen glands
In January 2019, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) warned the Caribbean region of an expected spike in dengue fever.