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Aug 6, 2015

Is There a Dengue Outbreak in the West?

The Ministry of Health is currently dealing with an outbreak of dengue fever. A rash of the disease is being confirmed in the country, a concentration of which has been noted in the Cayo District.  The vector-borne illness, also known as break bone fever, is up by thirty-six cases from the same period in 2014.  While there are no confirmed deaths so far, there have been approximately fifteen alerts for the deadlier hemorrhagic strain.  Those alerts, according to Chief Operations Officer Kim Bautista, of the Vector Control Unit, are spread across the country.  Since they are all clinically diagnosed, the number of cases doesn’t automatically mean that they have been confirmed as dengue hemorrhagic fever.  This morning, representatives from the Ministry of Health convened a media briefing in Belmopan where a comprehensive update was given on the status of the outbreak in Belize.


Kim Bautista

Kim Bautista, Chief Operations Officer, VCU

“We’re looking at laboratory confirmed cases throughout the country, two hundred and sixty-one cases.  Clinical cases: three hundred and eighty-four and total persons that have been tested throughout the country: one thousand, six hundred and thirty-eight.  How do these figures compare as to last year?  It’s right up there.  At the same point last year we had confirmed two hundred and twenty-five cases.  We had tested sixteen hundred and twenty-four so the level of testing has more or less been similar. In terms of hemorrhagic dengue, if you understand, dengue hemorrhagic fever comes about by a combination of serotypes of the four serotypes that exist with the dengue virus.  So an individual is exposed at one point in their life, builds up immunity to that serotype.  If there is another serotype circulating and they are exposed to that serotype it increases your risk for dengue hemorrhagic fever.  What we see is that every three years in the region we see an increase in hemorrhagic cases because it’s like a cycle.  Just like with the flu virus, every year it’s a different one which is why every year there’s a different flu vaccine.  So this year we’ve received fifteen alerts countrywide for dengue hemorrhagic fever, five of those coming from the western district.  Dengue hemorrhagic fever is a clinical diagnosis in some of these cases so if there are five alerts it doesn’t mean that there are necessarily five confirmed [cases] of dengue hemorrhagic fever coming out of the west.”

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