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Jul 31, 2013

Belize on High Alert after Regional Dengue Outbreaks

Kim Bautista

The Ministry of Health has issued an urgent statement cautioning the public on dengue. The release is a result of severe outbreaks in the region including Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras. In Honduras, a state of emergency has been declared after sixteen deaths from the virulent fever, and elsewhere in Central America more than forty thousand persons have been infected with twenty-six deaths reported. News Five recently spoke to C.E.O. in the Vector Control Unit, Kim Bautista, who advised even then that this would be an active season.

 

Kim Bautista, C.E.O., Vector Control Unit [File: July 4th, 2013]

“It’s a very active season throughout the region.  That hasn’t really touched home as yet for us but we’re planning and we have certain interventions that we’re carrying out that will mitigate that once it starts hitting home.  Traditionally, what we used to see was that every two to three years we would have an outbreak of dengue.  To some extent that has changed, every year to two years we tend to see outbreaks but right now, within the region, you have alerts coming out of El Salvador and Honduras where sizeable parts of those countries have been put on high alert and in the case of Honduras, I believe there was a state of emergency in some areas.  In Guatemala, it has also been high, as well as in Nicaragua and Costa Rica.  The recent reports out of those regions are that if you look at the situation compared to last year this same time, the figures have quadrupled.  When you look at neighboring Mexico as well, last year they reported the most dengue cases they have ever reported and so with all that put into context it’s going to be an active season.”

 

The public is advised to seek immediate medical attention if they experience a high fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain or a rash. In terms of prevention, residents should use insect repellant to prevent mosquito bites, ensure their homes are properly screened and keep house windows open whenever the Ministry of Health is spraying to mosquitos inside the home can be eradicated. 

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