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First local dengue case confirmed

(CMR) The Ministry of Health & Wellness and the Public Health Department said there may be early evidence of local person-to-person Dengue transmission identified within the Cayman Islands.

“While previously confirmed cases of Dengue were linked to individuals with a travel history, new evidence has identified that local transmission- meaning passed from an individual within the Cayman Islands to a different person within the Cayman Islands with no travel history- has occurred,” explained Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Nick Gent.

For the reason that starting of 2023, 28 cases of Dengue have been investigated locally, with 4 cases confirmed, three with travel history, and 1 with no travel history.

“Up to now, we have now had one confirmation of an individual with no travel history, but I caution that this a disease where there could be quite a lot of asymptomatic cases, so we are going to remain vigilant and can proceed our efforts to coach the general public on methods to protect themselves while taking measures to regulate the mosquito population,” Dr Gent added.

Typically, there are between 0-8 confirmed Dengue cases annually within the Cayman Islands, with the exceptions being an outbreak in 2012 where there have been 37 cases confirmed (18 imported and 19 locally transmitted), and one other outbreak in 2019, 24 cases confirmed (3 imported and 21 locally transmitted). It is crucial to notice that Cayman now has local testing capability for Dengue on the Cayman Islands Molecular Biology Laboratory (CIMBL), putting it in a a lot better position than it has been in previous years by eliminating the necessity to send samples overseas for confirmation.

“These limited outbreaks within the last twenty years have happened after the introduction of the disease into the Cayman Islands, and aggressive mosquito control measures targeting the Aedes mosquito -which is answerable for the person-to-person transmission of the disease- were quite effective,” explains Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Samuel Williams-Rodriguez.

Energetic surveillance and continued liaison between the Public Health Department and Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) to take vector control measures each time a suspected case is reported is ongoing.

Dr. Williams-Rodriguez also emphasized that to ensure that the Aedes mosquito to transmit Dengue, they need to bite infected individuals.

“For Aedes mosquitoes to transmit dengue, they need to bite infected individuals; otherwise, they’ll’t turn into infectious and transmit the disease. Dengue fever is attributable to a virus, but a mosquito biting an individual with Dengue can spread the virus to a different person.” Dr. Williams-Rodriguez added.

“Hence, individuals who develop Dengue symptoms inside two to 3 weeks of getting back from countries with Dengue cases are advised to seek the advice of their physician and inform them of their travel history,“ he continued.

The very best technique to prevent the transmission of Dengue fever is by stopping mosquito bites.

“I encourage residents to familiarise themselves with the general public health advice for travel and native prevention. And, as at all times, early diagnostic testing is paramount, so if showing symptoms, please contact your physician or the Public Health Department on 244-2648,” Dr. Gent said.

Travel Advice

-Research your destination and learn the danger for Dengue and other mosquito-borne illnesses akin to chikungunya, malaria, and zika.

-Review the country specific travel recommendations, health notices and warnings, including any identified ‘hot spots’.

-Add mosquito repellent to your packing list. Repellents that contain DEET are really useful.

-Include items of clothing with long sleeves and long pants for extra protection.

-Sleep indoors in places with air con and window screens. If this shouldn’t be possible, use a bed net.

-Seek medical attention in the event you develop symptoms of dengue.

Countries within the region that reported having dengue fever:

Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica*, Martinique, Mexico, Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela

*The Jamaican Ministry of Health & Wellness declared a Dengue outbreak on 23 September 2023. The Ministry release read: “As of Friday, September 22, 2023, the country had recorded 565 suspected, presumed and confirmed cases of Dengue. Of that number, 78 cases had been confirmed, with nearly all of the cases seen in Kingston & St. Andrew, St. Catherine and St. Thomas. The dominant strain is Dengue Type 2, which last predominated in 2010. There are not any Dengue-related deaths classified right now; nevertheless, six deaths are being investigated.”

Travelers to Jamaica should monitor the situation closely. (Full release could be found on: https://www.moh.gov.jm )

Local /Community Prevention Advice

-Use mosquito repellent, especially during peak times of mosquito traffic (dusk and dawn)

-Use light long sleeve shirts and long pants to stop bites

-Take steps to maintain mosquitoes out of your property via using air con, window, and door screens

-Once per week, empty and scrub, turn over, cover, or throw out items that hold water, akin to tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers. Check inside and out of doors your property. Mosquitoes lay eggs near water.

-Contact the Mosquito Research and Control Unit at 949-2557 with a service request must you find the mosquito situation in your area warrants attention

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