Dengue alert

MIKE KING,

Added 10 August 2010

DENGUE FEVER, the virus-based disease spread by mosquitoes, has reached worrying proportions over the last seven weeks, according to the Ministry of Health. Five people suspected of having dengue fever have been admitted to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the last three weeks, with the hospital taking in patients on July 20, 26, 28, 30 and 31. Two of these cases have been confirmed positive for both dengue fever and hantavirus. Another case has been clinically assessed as dengue haemorrhagic fever. Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Joy St John says results are not yet available for the remaining two cases. St John told the DAILY NATION yesterday there were 43 cases of the dreaded illness this year, adding that she was concerned about the spiralling cases in the last two months. According to her, in the past seven weeks there have been three times as many confirmed cases as in the corresponding period last year. “We have had an explosion in the last seven weeks as compared to last year in the number of cases. It is just not simply a case of more cases this year as compared to 2009, but the concern is how the numbers have racked up over the last two months,” she said. Yesterday, the Caribbean Epidemiological Centre (CAREC) sent out a dengue alert which, according to St John, has implications for Barbados. “We need to be aware that there is so much traffic in the Caribbean that we have be mindful. If there is traffic and there is a serotype that hasn’t circulated in Barbados for a while, it could be quite dangerous, which is what is happening in Trinidad,” she said.Clear informationSt John said the ministry had produced a surveillance bulletin that gave clear information on “what is happening in Barbados in terms of dengue epidemic”. The CMO said she spoke yesterday with doctors in the department of internal medicine at the QEH. “We have sent out bulletins to all doctors, public and private sector, and we have also gone specifically to the QEH and we did a training session and I participated in that with the department of internal medicine. “We have spoken directly with the private laboratories and impressed upon them the importance of submitting the information for their suspected cases and the tests that they have done so that we have a clear indication of what is going on, not only numbers, but geographically,” she said. St John said that geographic mapping of cases was being done to tailor a response for the location that is most affected. There has been an outbreak of dengue fever in Trinidad and Tobago and in Belize.

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