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Belize faces Dengue Outbreak Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 15 July 2010 00:00

The Ministry of Health is announcing that the country is in the midst of a Dengue outbreak. The Ministry has issued a release which states that since the start of this year they have received 348 reports of clinical cases of Classic Dengue Fever. According to Epidemiologist, Ethan Gough, 30 of those have been laboratory confirmed and 42 have been diagnosed as Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever. The majority of these cases have been reported in the Belize and Cayo Districts. 309 of the 348 are in those two districts with Belize reporting 167 cases and Cayo reporting 142. This report is similar to the Dengue outbreak article in our July 26, 2009 issue. However, last year’s outbreak pales in comparison to this year. As of July 26 last year, there were 180 reported cases of Dengue Fever. 150 of those were reported in the months of May, June and July. Again Cayo and Belize Districts had the most cases with 114 and 61 cases respectively.

Dengue fever is endemic to Belize and there are normally increased instances of it in the rainy season. Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by mosquitoes. It is an acute illness of sudden onset. Characteristics of Dengue Fever are headaches, fever, exhaustion, severe joint and muscle pain, swollen glands, and rash. Fever, rash, and headaches are particularly characteristic of dengue fever. The virus is contracted from the bite of a striped Aedes aegypti mosquito that has previously bitten an infected person. The mosquito flourishes during the rainy seasons but can breed in water-filled flower pots, plastic bags, and cans all year-round.

The amount of cases in such a short period has been cause for alarm. For that reason, the Ministry of Heath has begun increased spraying of insecticides across the country. The Public Health Department is teaming up with the Belize City Council to embark on a city wide cleanup campaign to destroy mosquito breeding sites. Councilor responsible for public relations Dion Leslie said that there will also be advertisement in the media with tips on fighting the epidemic. The cleanup campaign is an opportunity for individuals to take advantage of machinery and human resources offered by the Ministry of Health and the Belize City Council to clean up their yards free of cost. Everyone needs to do their part to fight this dangerous epidemic. Last year the first Dengue outbreak was controlled with a cleanup campaign and increased spraying from trucks and materials provided by the Government of Mexico. However, a second outbreak occurred in September and October.

If we are to really limit our Aedes Aegypti mosquito population we need to be conscious all year round. Everyone needs to keep their yard clean and free of mosquito breeding sites. Be considerate of your family and neighbours. Dengue is a serious disease and it can lead to death. Join the war against the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Everything must be done to squash this bug.