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Jul 25, 2019

Dengue Outbreak: Recognizing the Symptoms & Alerting Authorities

The Ministry of Health is battling a dengue outbreak which is prevalent up north, with the Orange Walk District reporting the highest number of confirmed cases. Dengue is caused by the Aedes Egypti mosquito that breathes in open containers that hold water.  The ministry is asking residents to do their part in recognizing the symptoms and alerting authorities so that the Vector Control Unit can carry out interventions to contain the spread of dengue. Here is News Five’s Duane Moody with an update.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The dengue outbreak in Belize has residents and the Ministry of Health on high alert, with the Vector Control Unit out in full swing providing awareness on the disease. They are making sure that residents in the four districts are eliminating breathing sites for the Aedes Egypti mosquito. This is in an effort to prevent further spread and cases of the disease. Vector Control Unit Chief of Operations, Kim Bautista explains what residents can do in their homes to help the situation.

 

Kim Bautista

Kim Bautista, Chief of Operations, Vector Control Unit

“As a householder, on a weekly basis, it won’t take you more than a few minutes to take a little walk around the yard to identify containers that are there more than likely not in use and serving as a reservoir for mosquitoes to breath in. Simple things: egg shells, coconut shells, drums, bottles—all of these things that are water holding containers that are not properly stored or disposed of—that’s what’s leading to the problem. You look at urban areas whereby the housing is so close and it might be a neighbour with tires in his or her yard and the mosquito will have a flight range of a couple hundred yards so within a couple hundred yards you have several persons being exposed.”

 

The spike was detected via laboratory confirmed cases, but there is concern that many more cases are undocumented. As has been reported, the increase was mostly concentrated in the north, with Orange Walk District recording the largest number of cases; two hundred and thirty to be exact. Corozal is showing about a hundred less than that, followed by Stann Creek with one hundred and five and Cayo just under the hundred.

 

Lorna Perez

Lorna Perez, Surveillance Officer, Ministry of Health

“We had seen an increase of more than usual at the beginning of the year, but it had been a gradual increase. However, in the past five to six weeks, we have noticed a drastic increase in the number of cases. As mentioned earlier, it was mostly concentrated in the north; started in Orange Walk and then it started spreading to Corozal. We had some small numbers in the cayes. However, since we have noticed this increase in the past five to six weeks, we have seen an increase in southern part of the country, Stann Creek District to be more specific and also in the Cayo District. There are communities that have higher number than others.”

 

Intervention is a shared responsibility between the Ministry of Health and the populace. Bautista speaks on the intervention strategy going forward.

 

Kim Bautista

“The first one is looking, acknowledging or recognizing the symptoms and seeking healthcare. There is the fever that’s persistent; there’s pain behind the eyes, there’s back pain, joint pain and at times there’s a rash. Those are the telltale signs. So you develop these symptoms, you try and seek medical attention because what that does is that by you seeking attention at one of our healthcare facilities, the alert system triggers a notification to key personnel to respond. So you have a case in a particular neighbourhood, it triggers an alert, we conduct an investigation and then vector control carries out its interventions—spraying and reducing mosquito breathing sites.  In the south, we have some cases in the Bella Vista, in Independence, in Santa Cruz Village so we have been doing some mobilization in some of those strategic points. I think that’s one of the things that we are trying to do aside from doing sensitization through the media talk shows.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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