A dengue outbreak has been declared in T&T. The confirmed deaths of three people due to the virus, unconfirmed deaths of two others and more than 600 reported cases of dengue prompted chief medical officer Dr Anton Cumberbatch to make the declaration yesterday. Speaking during a news conference at the Ministry of Health's Park Street office, Port-of-Spain, Cumberbatch said the number of reported cases of dengue could be more than 600, as private health institution were not reporting clinical cases to the ministry. "The rainy season lasts until December and we are in July, so this is not going to go away any time soon," he said. "The rate of increase is at outbreak rate. "We may not have reached the numbers as before, but we have to declare that we have an outbreak going on."
Dengue is spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito which survives and breeds in clear water. Among the symptoms of dengue fever include headache, fever, exhaustion, severe muscle and joint pain, swollen glands and rash. Other signs include bleeding gums, severe pain behind the eyes, and red palms and soles. Cumberbatch said although there were clusters of dengue cases reported in specific areas, people living in other areas without such cases should not feel they are out of danger. He said of the five deaths, four occurred in South Trinidad.
161 cases in South
Chief executive officer of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) Paula Chester-Cumberbatch said up to Thursday, 161 people were treated for dengue at the San Fernando General Hospital. She said this was compared to the 63 people treated in June. She said areas with prevalent cases of dengue were Marabella, San Fernando, Claxton Bay and Gasparillo. Cumberbatch said if citizens did not take the threat of the virus seriously, T&T would never get over the problem. He said dengue had been affecting T&T for the past 30 years, but because of the climate changes, the pattern has changed.
Cumberbatch explained that normally the cycle of dengue would peak every five years, but because of climate change the cycle began again within two years. "Two years ago, we were having the same levels even faster," he said. Cumberbatch said despite the Ministry's vector control management drive, the public had to understand that spraying mosquitoes alone would not kill them. "We have been spraying in T&T since the 1940's when we had malaria and yellow fever and now we have the aedes aegypti mosquito," he said. "That means we have been spraying for the last 70 years and every year we still have mosquito infestation," he added.
Cumberbatch called on citizens to go to a health facility as soon as they displayed of dengue. He said people should not wait until they started to bleed from the nose and mouth to rush to hospital. "If you are not feeling well, please come to us early so we can treat the virus before it gets worse," he said. He said the symptoms of dengue lasts between five and seven days. He said sometimes, at day four or five, infected people would notice a decrease in fever, but this was no indication that they were out of danger. He said if a person experienced abdominal pains and vomiting after the third or fourth day of illness, that person should be taken to an emergency centre as this was a dangerous sign.
"Bleeding is not an absolute requirement to come into hospital," Cumberbatch said. He highlighted that aspirin and aspirin-related medications should not be used at all when dengue is contracted. He said dengue causes bleeding and some aspirin-like compounds prolong the bleeding time, making it more difficult to treat the virus. He said Paracetemol and Acetaminophen are the safer tablets to use. "Some people need Aspirin because they are heart patients, but they have to be very careful," he said.
Dengue fever is a viral illness transmitted by the bite of an infected aedes aegypti mosquito. To prevent the spread of this disease, the public is advised to practise source reduction through:
�2 disposal of all unwanted containers in the yard or environs which when exposed to the rain can collect water e.g. styrotex cups, bottles, old tyres;
�2 covering of all water-containing containers such as barrels, drums or buckets with a mosquito-proof covering;
�2 checking your guttering and making sure that the water flows freely without any obstruction by leaves or branches, and guttering is free from any kinks.
�2 emptying the pan under the refrigerator which can collect water;
�2 emptying and scrubbing the sides of water vases or using dirt or sand instead to support the flowers;
�2 ensuring that the drains in your compound allow the free flow of water.
If there is a mosquito infestation, please call Insect Vector Control at 663 2281 or email the Ministry at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Ministry of Health