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Aug 9, 2012

Healthy Living goes bone deep with dengue

Dengue Fever is endemic to Belize and cases are detected each year, particularly during the rainy season. But in 2010, the country faced a frightening outbreak of the disease, which included a few fatal cases of dengue hemorrhagic. To prevent a recurrence, the Ministry of Health has implemented preventative measures. In this week’s, Healthy Living, I found out that the current tally of cases for the first seven months of 2012 is promising.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

In August 2010, Belize was battling a Dengue Outbreak with over eight hundred cases reported by mid-august. The concentration of cases at that time was in the Cayo & Belize districts. Once the rains begin, the pestering of mosquitoes, including the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which transmits dengue is on the rise. So how are we faring in 2012? Senior Public Health Inspector for MOH Central Region, Mark Bernhard gave us an update.

 

Mark Bernhard

Mark Bernhard, Senior Public Health Inspector

“So far we have about one hundred and forty-one cases so far and that is pretty good considering everything. We have an active surveillance where we check all the private facilities to get the numbers. So we collect those along with those that go to the public health clinic facilities and that’s the total so far.”

 

According to Bernhard, there have been no reported cases of hemorrhagic dengue. Even though there is a significant decline of cases, the ministry of health is still working closely with communities to maintain preventative efforts. In the city, areas are zoned and efforts are focused in the most vulnerable areas.

 

Mark Bernhard

“Most of the focus is on the south side.  We have the Gungulung area, Faber’s Road Extension, Port area those are the areas where there are a lot of swampy and a lot of water in the drains and stuff like that. Those are the areas that we are concerned about. We have a program where we spray the drains and that is to control the immature stages of the mosquito so that they don’t they become adults and we’ll be looking at revamping back that program so that we can get a head start there.”

 

It’s not exclusively a south side effort as there have been reported cases in the north side as well. Therefore the vector control program extends to the rest of the city as well.  The cleanup efforts have been carried out in conjunction with the City Council. Residents should also play their part in dengue prevention.

 

Mark Bernhard

“The dengue mosquito likes to breed in fresh water so one of the things that people have vats and different containers that catch water those are the areas that the mosquito like. However, we have noticed that they have also started to breed in the drains, so the drains are sprayed and maintained. Also if you look around the city, there are a lot of old tires a lot of old appliances like washing machines and so on and even old television.  And we’re making an effort to have those people remove those stuff from there.  For the individual to keep their surroundings clean and not to allow stagnant water to accumulate in your property because that is the breeding grounds for the mosquito.”

 

Persons who experience the symptoms of dengue are asked to seek medical attention.

 

Mark Bernhard

“Dengue as you know is also called break-bone fever so you going to get joint pains, fever of course, sometimes you have retro orbital pain, pain behind the eyeball, you’ll have sometimes rashes. Sometimes you won’t want to eat a general feeling of malaise. Whenever you see these symptoms the advices is to go to the health center. On a quick note here anybody experiencing fever should do a malaria test, to rule out malaria.  We have fortunate in the case of malaria we haven’t had any cases of malaria so far in believe; last year we never had any. We had I think three imported cases from Honduras and we also want to make sure we’re on top of things in terms of malaria surveillance.”

 

Another virus that would exhibit similar symptoms is that of the H1N1 virus.

 

Mark Bernhard

“The ministry of health can’t do it all. It’s not about spraying, It’s about the individual doing  its part in keeping the premises clean make sure that you don’t have stagnant water. If you have drums cover it, if you do have that we have something that is called: a bait that you put in the water and it will prevent the wiggle waggle from forming adults. So there are things you can do but the public have to work with us we cannot do it by ourselves.”

 

Lastly, regarding the spraying of mosquitoes, Bernard says, residents should not lock their doors and windows as the spraying trucks pass as the insecticide will be blocked from entering the house and will fail to kill the mosquitoes already trapped in the dark corners of the home.

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