The Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, has alerted countries in the region to make preparation for a possible outbreak of dengue, which is a disease caused by a virus that is spread by a mosquito. Here in Belize, the health authorities are making the necessary preparation in the hopes of preventing an outbreak. Love news spoke with Lisa Tillett-Moir, the Senior Public Health Inspector at Central Health Region, who said that persons contract dengue when they are bitten by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
Lisa Tillet – Moir Senior Public Health Inspector (Central Health Region): “The reason why we are so concerned at this time is because there is two parts of dengue. There is dengue classical and then they have dengue hemorrhagic. Dengue hemorrhagic is what we refer to as the bleeding dengue when you start to lose blood. Sometimes you lose it internally and other times you might lose it where you can see the blushes and spots on the body and if you don’t get medical attention quickly it can kill you and it has killed people before so that is the important thing. The thing to remember is that once you contract dengue you will have the dengue virus inside your body for a lifetime so when we read a dengue test we have what we refer to as the AGG. The AGG is telling me that oh this person had dengue before and then you come up with a AGM and that is telling me that you currently have it so someone like yourself is a client for the dengue hemorrhagic because you have had it before. There is actually four types on dengue so that is the most important part, that it can kills us.”
Symptoms of dengue include fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain. Nadia Avila, the Vector Control Supervisor at Central Health Region spoke about the steps being taken to prevent an outbreak.
Nadia Avila Vector Control Supervision (Central Health Region): “Clean up campaigns help us, health education helps us but at the same time we advise the residents to help themselves. The garbage truck is around Mondays and Wednesday, Tuesdays and Thursdays. We advise them to take out what they don’t want and also we advise them with the City Council hand in hand from night time drop offs too for when it comes to huge containers like a refrigerator or sometimes tires. When we do our rounds throughout the city because we have inspectors that go out everyday and we advise them that if they see a hotspot with a lot of tires to kindly try to locate who the owner is so we can get back to them and ask them to remove those because that is very hazardous and that is where you find majority of the breeding sites. Remember one mosquito can lay up to 100 plus eggs but they don’t put all their eggs in one basket. If they are around the yard and they find a bucket, they will put it there, a can, a coconut shell and they will put it there. That is reason why and the heat they multiply more because up to ten days is their life cycle. What we do for the adult stage we do a ULV spraying. What we do for patients with dengue fever symptoms or if it is confirmed we do thermal fogging. We go in the homes, we investigate and we ask them to kindly explain to their neighbors what we do. At the same time we have the officers on the ground doing their inspections and interventions.”
Avila noted that there isn’t any vaccine for dengue and as such only the symptoms are treated.