What Is Worse, Dengue Fever Or Covid-19?

File photo. This mosquito can spread the dengue fever virus, so controling its breeding places is essential to control the disease.
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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados–November 4th, 2020–Barbados has seen 38 hospitalizations so far this year related to suspected and confirmed cases of dengue fever.

This was revealed by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Kenneth George, today, as he appealed to residents to carry out regular inspections of their premises to eliminate Aedes  aegypti mosquito breeding sites.

Dr. George expressed concern about the increase in probable and suspected cases compared to last year.

So far this year, there have been 301 probable cases and eight confirmations of the disease, compared to 92 probable cases last year with no confirmations. No deaths have been recorded over the two years, so far.

The Chief Medical Officer maintained that while dengue fever had an associated mortality related to severe dengue or hemorrhagic fever, it was a preventable disease.

“What is required is the cooperation of the public to make sure that premises are free of mosquito breeding sites. They should inspect premises one to two times a week, paying close attention to blocked guttering, plant pots, tires and any other receptacles which may contain stagnant water,” he advised.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness has scaled up house-to-house inspections and its weekly fogging exercise in response to the uptick in cases.

Dr. George explained that while fogging reduced the adult mosquito population, the household checks were necessary to get rid of the larvae stages of the mosquito, adding: “fogging and inspections must be done in conjunction. People must not rely on fogging alone.”

The Chief Medical Officer explained that one reason why there were not many confirmed cases was because samples needed to be received by the laboratory within two to three days of suspected infection in order for confirmatory tests to be done.

He, therefore, urged anyone with suspected dengue symptoms to seek medical attention as early as possible so that testing can be carried out to identify the virus.

While dengue fever is endemic in Barbados and there has been an increased number of cases this year, the situation has not yet reached epidemic proportions, the Chief Medical Officer revealed.  The last epidemic in Barbados was in 2016.

Symptoms include fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and a red itchy rash.

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus. Symptoms typically begin three to fourteen days after infection. These may include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash.

Recovery generally takes two to seven days. In a small proportion of cases, the disease develops into severe dengue, also known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, resulting in bleeding, low levels of blood platelets and blood plasma leakage, or into dengue shock syndrome, where dangerously low blood pressure occurs.

Dengue is spread by several species of female mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, principally Aedes aegypti. The virus has five serotypes; infection with one type usually gives lifelong immunity to that type, but only short-term immunity to the others. Subsequent infection with a different type increases the risk of severe complications. A number of tests are available to confirm the diagnosis including detecting antibodies to the virus or its RNA.

A vaccine for dengue fever has been approved and is commercially available in a number of countries, but is not widely used as there are certain risks and complications and a possibility of making the condition worse.

Dengue is common in more than 120 countries including several in the Caribbean.  According to Wikipedia, in 2013 it caused about 60 million symptomatic infections worldwide, with 18% admitted to hospital and about 13,600 deaths.

 

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