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Posted: Thursday 28 March, 2024 at 6:34 PM

Dengue remains a significant problem in the Caribbean region

By: Staff Reporter,

    BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- THE Caribbean region witnessed an increase in the number of dengue cases over the past year, as health officials continue to combat the mosquito-borne disease, which is wreaking havoc in Latin America.


    In the last year, the Caribbean region reported over 25,000 cases, of which 19,000 have been laboratory confirmed, according to PAHO’s Assistant Director, Dr. Rhonda Sealy-Thomas. This increase is part of a larger trend observed across the Americas region.


    Dr. Sealy-Thomas confirmed 86 severe cases with three deaths reported across the entire region. Due to the spike in cases, authorities are urged to address the issue directly, considering the growing impact of tourism on their economies.


    “Because these small islands depend on tourism, like St. Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua, it is crucial to tackle any outbreak,” she said in response to a question from SKNVibes News at today’s press conference.


    Although the virus is endemic in the Federation, between 2006 and 2010, the Federation reported 122 confirmed cases. During the current outbreak, the Federation has reported over 200 cases, with statistics up to last year showing Nevis with more than 180 confirmed cases.


    Dr. Sealy-Thomas reminded that the Pan American Health Organization has collaborated with small island states within the Americas, including St. Kitts and Nevis, in controlling the Aedes Agypti mosquito and preventing breeding sites.


    “For example, in Antigua and Barbuda, they are affected by drought, so there is a lot of water storage. Therefore, we have to encourage the public to store water safely to avoid breeding of the Aedes Agypti mosquito, which is the vector transmitting dengue and other diseases,” the Assistant Director emphasized.


    Furthermore, waste management and training of health workers were highlighted as critical components to minimize outbreaks of the disease across the Americas, especially in small island states.


    PAHO has been advocating for early detection of the disease as many people are asymptomatic, which is concerning as it can lead to severe cases, ultimately resulting in deaths.


    According to PAHO, in 2023, the Region of the Americas experienced the highest number of dengue cases since records began, with 4.5 million cases, including 7,665 severe cases and 2,363 deaths.


    The health organization noted that as of March 25, there were over 3 million cases, with the majority reported in Brazil (81%), Paraguay (6%), Argentina (3.4%), Peru (2.6%), and Colombia (2.2%).


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