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St Lucia’s 1st dengue death

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

St Lucia’s 1st dengue death

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Health authorities in St. Lucia issued a health warning today as investigations are launched into what is believed to be the island’s first death from dengue fever.
The Ministry of Health, which is collaborating with the Caribbean Epidemiological Center (CAREC) to confirm the presence of the deadly strain of dengue here, has also called on citizens to assist in combating the spread of the disease.
“The warning must be heeded now that it has been determined that all the serotypes of dengue virus have been identified in St. Lucia at varying points in time, which increases the risk of developing dengue hemorrhagic fever,” Chief Medical Officer Dr. Merlene Frederick said.
The Health Ministry has already alerted all medical personnel to increase their vigilance for signs of dengue, leptospirosis, influenza and gastrointestinal diseases including the threat of cholera.
“We have also increased environmental health and health education activities surrounding these diseases,” she said.
With heavy showers being experienced almost every day in January, a Health bulletin noted there is an increased risk of the country experiencing a dengue or leptospirosis outbreak.
Dengue fever is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.  Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a severe complaint which sometimes develops from dengue fever.
“The persons with hemorrhagic symptoms may see bleeding in the gums and mucus membranes, the skin, urine, stool and vomit and in some cases persons suffering from dengue fever may become more severely ill after the fever subsides,” Dr. Frederick said.
She said that the risk of developing dengue hemorrhagic fever increases when persons who have previously been affected with one type of dengue virus get re-infected with a different type of dengue virus.
Dengue fever can be prevented by avoiding the breeding of mosquitoes in and around the house by using sand instead of water in a flower vases, covering all drums and water receptacles, keeping surrounding free of plastics and containers which retain water and fixing damaged guttering which holds water.
“The disease can also be prevented if persons wear long sleeved clothing, sparingly using insect repellents, using mosquito nets on windows and over beds and using insecticides sparingly in the home,” she advised.