ORANJESTAD/THE BOTTOM – The islands of St. Eustatius and Saba are on heightened alert for a potential outbreak of Dengue Fever following two confirmed cases on the islands.
On Friday, Dr. Gewin Schobbe of Public Health on St. Eustatius provided an update in a live video broadcast by the Statia Government. According to Schobbe, with the two confirmed cases on the island, one cannot speak of an ‘outbreak’ yet.
Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral infection caused by the dengue virus. It is transmitted primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, commonly found in tropical and subtropical regions. Dengue fever is prevalent in many parts of the world, especially in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Islands, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The symptoms of dengue fever typically include the sudden onset of high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, skin rash, and mild bleeding. In some cases, the infection can progress to a more severe form known as dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome, which can be life-threatening.
According to Schobbe, it is important to remain vigilant, but that is always the case when it comes to the prevention of Dengue, one of the infectious diseases caused by the Aedes aegypti mosquito.
Dr. Schobbe in the program also addressed the issue of fogging, which he described as a somewhat controversial measure. “Yes, fogging is effective against the mosquitoes, but it also kills a lot of other insects,” said Schobbe.
As always, so-called vector control is important to eliminate or prevent breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, so that there is less chance of infection. This is especially true during the rainy season when there is more chance of puddles forming where the mosquito can breed.
The Public Entity on Saba also provided an update on the situation. “Although currently on Saba there are no known cases of Dengue, there are concerning signals from surrounding islands, including St Maarten and Statia where cases are being detected. It is realistic to expect that Saba will soon see cases”.
Saba Government also said that the Public Health Department, Saba Cares, and Public Entity Vector Control are actively monitoring the situation.