Two maternal deaths, one in Carmelita Village, Orange Walk and one in Dangriga Town, Stann Creek, have caused concerns as health authorities believe that these deaths were due to dengue. Both women were relatively young, and in one case, the mother had given birth less than a month ago. While it is not confirmed that dengue was the killer, Dr Natalia Beer, advisor in the Maternal and Child Health Unit at the Ministry of Health, said that they would have to test the blood samples to know for sure. She also explained to us why pregnant women, and those that have just given birth, are more susceptible to complications from dengue.
Dr. Natalia Beer – Advisor, Maternal and Child Health Unit at the Ministry of Health:” There is a countrywide Dengue outbreak and the Ministry is working with communities, Town Councils and Village Councils to destroy the mosquito breeding sites. We can confirm and put a stop to the outbreak if at every home we destroy the mosquito breeding sites. We have two women who contracted dengue or suspected to be dengue during or after the pregnancy. We know that pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing complications from Dengue so the investigation is ongoing to determine if these two maternal deaths are related to Dengue. One is from the Northern region and one is from the Southern region. During pregnancy there is an increase in the volume of liquid in the body dealing with the pregnancy. After the woman delivers, the liquid is not finally dealt with by the body the day after she gives birth. It takes a while to go back to the normal volume of liquid in her body so that condition alone puts a stress on the body so that is why they are at greater risk of complications. Dengue is now a complication at that level because of the management of fluid in the body.”
According to Dr Beer not all dengue infected mothers also told us of some of the things pregnant women can do as a precaution against dengue.
Dr. Natalia Beer – Advisor, Maternal and Child Health Unit at the Ministry of Health: “Since we started having cases of Zika in Belize and Zika is transmitted by mosquitoes we have started to provide to all pregnant women the treated mosquito net. We give that to each pregnant woman, we encourage them to prevent mosquito bites by wearing protective clothing and using repellent, we give them repellent also. I think right now the most important message for pregnant women and the population as a whole is that any fever since we are having this outbreak of Dengue is considered Dengue until demonstrated otherwise so they should be seeking services at their nearest health facility so they can be screened for signs and symptoms of Dengue. A few years ago it was safe to say okay if we’re suspecting that we have Dengue then probably the fourth and the fifth day might be the most critical. Now a days not only in Belize but in other countries they are seeing that complications can arise even from day one of the infection which is not expected. A common myth among the population also is that sometimes women after giving birth they have a little fever and they would think that it is because the milk is coming down but that is a myth so that is something we need to emphasize among women. All fevers should be tested whether you are pregnant or after.”
Once a person is confirmed to have dengue, they would be treated mainly for the fever, as dengue itself has no treatment./////////