There has been an outbreak of dengue in Belize, particularly in the northern and southern districts. The numbers recorded so far have surpassed those that were recorded in the past two years, combined. When we spoke to Doctor Marvin Manzanero, the Director of Health Services, he said that the outbreak was not unexpected.
Dr. Marvin Manzanero – Director of Health Services: “The Dengue situation…I think the first alert we sent out to all regional teams was in March of this year so all health regions were aware that there had been projections that we would be having a potential outbreak so all surveillance plans were reviewed from back in March. From that time to this month we have been engaging with communities in terms of health campaigns. We have had a review at some of the institutions of how to manage cases and laboratory testing has been done but that will be in the outbreak phase. We are not going to be testing on every single patient that shows up with the symptoms, we will do a clinical suspicion diagnosis. We believe that in the northern part of the country the cases may have peaked. They actually started to come down because it is not just this week, it has been going on for the last couple of weeks and I believe that we are starting to see now an increasing number of cases in the Stann Creek and Cayo Districts. We haven’t noted an increase in Central which is the Belize District and the Toledo District. It is falling in line with what we anticipated. The numbers we have up to last week Friday, call it numbers combined to last week Friday is more cases than we had in 2017 and 2018 combined. Three or four years if you anticipate that outbreaks like these are going to happen which is why it has been flagged at the beginning of the year and which is why it has been flagged from March internally.”
According to Dr Manzanero, persons can prevent catching dengue by keeping their community clean as well as trying to avoid mosquito bites as much as possible. In order to do so, the public is advised to make use of insect repellant, and mosquito nets. Dr Manzanero also said that symptoms of dengue are high fever, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing, and that person exhibiting these symptoms should seek treatment as soon as possible because early intervention is important. Interestingly, in Honduras, over 50 people have already died due to dengue in a recent outbreak.