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PAHO Issues Warning Over Increase in Dengue Cases in the Caribbean 

by Karen Rollins Oct 10, 2023

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A female mosquito

The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has issued an ‘Epidemiological Alert’ due to a rise in the number of dengue fever cases in Central America and the Caribbean.

The alert urges countries in the region to “review their preparedness and response plans, as well as continue surveillance, early diagnosis, and timely care of dengue and other arbovirus cases, in order to prevent severe cases and deaths associated with these diseases.”

The alert also urged individuals to do what they can to stop mosquitos from breeding, stating: “Highly productive mosquito breeding sites, such as water storage containers (drums, raised tanks, clay pots, etc.), must be subject to prevention measures to avoid vector reproduction. Other breeding sites, such as roof gutters and other water retention containers, should also be cleaned periodically.”

On 7 October, health officials in Barbados confirmed an outbreak of the disease on the island. The Ministry of Health and Wellness revealed that from January to the end of September 2023, there were 518 suspected or probable cases of the disease in Barbados as compared to 241 cases in the same period in 2022.

According to PAHO, so far this year other parts of the Eastern Caribbean have seen the following number of dengue cases:

Antigua and Barbuda – 22

Grenada – 589 (one death)

Guadeloupe – 6,106 (five deaths)

Martinique – 7,074 cases (three deaths)

Montserrat – 2

Saint Kitts and Nevis – 5

Saint Lucia – 2

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines – 14

Jamaica has also reported a significant increase in dengue cases. At a recent press conference Jamaica’s Minister of Health and Wellness, Christopher Tufton, reported that as of Monday 11 September there were 316 suspected, presumed, and confirmed dengue cases in the country.

Dengue fever is a viral infection that is passed to humans via the bite of the female Aedes aegypti mosquito. The best way to reduce your chances of getting dengue is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.

Dengue symptoms usually present four to six days after infection and last for up to 10 days. Some symptoms may be mild and are often mistaken for flu or another type of viral infection.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Sudden, high fever.
  • Severe headaches.
  • Fatigue.
  • Pain behind the eyes.
  • Nausea.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Severe joint and muscle pain.
  • A widespread red skin rash.
  • Mild bleeding.

In severe cases, some people will develop dengue haemorrhagic fever. This is a complication from the dengue infection that’s characterised by a high fever, bleeding from the nose and gums, an enlarged liver and failure of the circulatory system.

Dengue fever can also develop into a fatal condition called Dengue Shock Syndrome (DSS). DSS leads to massive blood loss, shock, and death.

If you think you may have been infected with dengue fever, rest and drink plenty of fluids. If you need pain relief, you should avoid aspirin or ibuprofen as these could make any bleeding worse.

See your doctor as quickly as possible. If you start to feel worse, you should go to the hospital immediately.

Sources: Barbados Government Information ServicePAHOJamaica Information Service, and Dominica News Online.