June 21, 2005 Health Department officials won't know for at least a week whether a 14-year-old St. Croix girl died Sunday from dengue fever.
"We won't know anything until the results come back," Health Department spokesman Eunice Bedminster said Tuesday.
She said tests at the Centers for Disease Control will determine if the girl died of dengue fever as suspected.
An infant boy also died in October 2004 of the disease.
Since January, 25 suspected cases were reported on St. Croix, 34 on St. Thomas and five on St. John, Bedminster said. It has been difficult to get private physicians to report cases, even though Health Commissioner Darlene Carty has deemed it a reportable disease, Bedminster added. Since the first of the year, only one case on St. Thomas and two on St. Croix were reported by private physicians, she said.
Symptoms of dengue fever include severe headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, high fever, and loss of appetite. A rash may also appear three to four days after the fever begins.
Carty said in a news release that children and seniors are at higher risk. Residents should seek medical attention promptly if they suspect they have dengue fever, which is transmitted by mosquitoes.
"Residents put themselves at risk if there are old tires, plant containers or empty drums around their homes where water can collect and provide a breeding place for mosquitoes," Carty said. "These containers should be emptied as frequently as possible."
Carty said the mosquito population is on the upswing thanks to recent heavy rains. Residents should also protect themselves by repairing or replacing damaged screens and by keeping windows and doors without screens closed.
If there are large puddles of water nearby, residents should call the Health Department's Environmental Health Division for assistance, Carty said.
Report suspected cases of Dengue fever to the Health Department's epidemiologist, Dr. Eugene Tull, at 773-1311, extension 3241.
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