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How big a threat is Dengue to Belize?

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Posted: Monday, November 25, 2019. 3:51 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: In light of recent reports of an increase in dengue cases, the public is reminded to take the necessary precautions and to seek urgent medical attention if experiencing symptoms related to dengue.

The regional rise in dengue cases remains very much a problem in Belize. Despite increased efforts from the Ministry of Health since March 2019 to address risk factors, the number of cases and the severity of cases continue to be a concern for the Belizean public, with three people losing their lives to dengue and a fourth suspected case of an infant who reportedly also died from dengue. There are also reports that a resident from San Pedro may have lost his life to denque last week.

Dengue is a febrile (fever) illness and its symptoms vary depending on the severity. Those symptoms range from just a mild fever to a severe, incapacitating high fever. Other symptoms include severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and rash. In the most severe cases, patients can go into shock, respiratory distress, severe bleeding, and end up with serious organ impairment. This happens particularly when the dengue is the ‘DENGUE HEMORRHAGIC type, as internal bleeding may occur, rapidly depleting the platelets in the blood of the individual.

Doctors may order lab tests for patients who exhibit enough of these symptoms, to confirm a dengue diagnosis.

Despite there being four serotypes of dengue, they are all passed on by the same vector, the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Notably, this same mosquito can also spread the Zika fever, Mayaro, yellow fever viruses, and chikungunya, which has comparable symptoms to dengue.

Since the illness is passed on through the mosquito, every mosquito breeding site in your area increases your risk factor of being exposed to the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Having items such as tin cans, buckets, discarded tires and other artificial containers that hold stagnant water around a yard increase the number of mosquito breeding sites in that area. Mosquitoes also breed in drains, untended pools, birdbaths, and clogged rain gutters.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) in collaboration with various municipal authorities and community groups, has been leading cleanup campaigns across the country in a deliberate effort to reduce the number of mosquito breeding sites. The Ministry told our newsroom that it is calling on all Belizeans to do their part in the fight against dengue, by ensuring that their yards are free of mosquito breeding sites.

Breaking Belize News (BBN) joins with the ministry in this appeal, to protect especially children and the elderly, who are two of the most vulnerable groups to an illness like dengue.

 

 

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