The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for the spread of Zika, chikunyunga and dengue.
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CASTRIES – Health authorities here say while St Lucia has not recorded an increase in dengue related cases, they are raining the alert after several countries in the region, including the neighbouring French territories have reported an increase in cases of the disease.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr Merlene Fredericks, said that alerts have been issued by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and most recently by the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
“Some persons might be wondering, ‘Why are those alerts being raised at this time?’” she said, noting that St Lucia normally raises the dengue alert closer to or during the rainy season.
But she said that a few things are different in the region this year.
“For one, certain countries in the region, namely Jamaica; the French territories have been experiencing an increased number of cases of dengue fever outside of the typical cyclical pattern where we normally see an increase in dengue fever around the rainy season,” Dr Fredericks said.
She said persons are well aware that due to travel and inter-regional movement, it is quite possible that when one country faces an issue, others can develop it as well.
Dengue fever is transmitted by the aedes aegypti mosquito, an insect with black and white legs, which mostly bites in the day and likes to breed in and around homes, Dr Fredericks said, as she encouraged persons to destroy all breeding sites and cover.
St Lucia last had a dengue epidemic in 2013, with type four of the illness being the most predominant.
“We have not seen dengue type three since 2009,” Dr Fredericks said, noting however that the nearby French islands are reporting cases of dengue types one and three.
“So we need to be in guard and we are advising all persons to be on guard,” she said, noting that there is a large portion of the population here who have never been exposed to dengue type three before. (CMC)