The Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis recently experienced an increase in rainfall associated with the passage of Tropical Storm Philippe. Increase in rainfall is often associated with an increase in mosquito vector levels and an increase in risk of spread of mosquito related diseases such as Dengue, Zika and Chikungunya. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has reported an upsurge in laboratory confirmed cases of Dengue in the region and Dengue outbreaks have been reported in three CARPHA member states.
Dengue viral infection is caused by the dengue virus which is transmitted mainly by female mosquitoes of the species – Aedes aegypti which is prevalent in the Federation. St. Kitts & Nevis is at risk for a Dengue outbreak. Therefore, it is imperative that the Ministry of Health (MOH), through its Environmental Health Departments, augment/strengthen its mosquito surveillance efforts/activities to reduce the risk of mosquito-related diseases like Dengue. Locally, the MOH reported three laboratory confirmed cases of dengue during this past week.
Dengue is a flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults. Symptoms usually begin four to ten days after being bitten by a dengue infected mosquito. The symptoms include high fever, headaches, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains and skin rash. The illness can evolve into severe Dengue, characterized by intense and continuous abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, and mucosal bleeding. Affected persons should access medical care at the nearest health center or hospital if these occur.
The most effective way to avoid getting sick from viruses spread by mosquitoes is to prevent mosquito bites. We can mitigate the impact and spread of Dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases by taking the following ten (10) actions including:
1. Protect yourself by using personal repellents on skin & clothes.
2. Use bed nets if adult mosquitoes are prevalent.
3. Wear protective clothing like long pants and long-sleeved tops.
4. Protect your homes by using screens for doors and windows.
5. Protect your homes, schools and offices by disposing of all bottles, cans, and water holding containers in an approved refuse bin with appropriate covers. Keep lawn, grass and vegetation trimmed.
6. Change and replenish water in vases daily.
7. Change and replenish pet and animal drinking troughs daily.
8. Store all used and new tyres in a dry place.
9. Report any body of stagnant water to the local Environmental Health Department.
10. If you are experiencing – fever, joint pains, pain behind eyes and a rash, you should seek medical care at the nearest health facility.
Individually and collectively, we have a responsibility to do our part in reducing the mosquito breeding sites to contain the spread of Dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases. Let us take action to maintain the health and wellness of our people.
Office of the Chief Medical Officer
Saturday October 7, 2023
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