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Acting Commissioner Issues Dengue Prevention Alert

May 2, 2007 – Recent, heavy downpours across the territory have made certain areas a haven for mosquito breeding. With the increased rains during the hurricane season, which officially starts June 1, residents should take steps to reduce their risk from dengue fever, according to a press release from the V.I. Department of Health.
"The increase in the mosquito population puts residents at risk for mosquito-borne illnesses, including dengue fever," said Acting Health Commissioner Dr. Phyllis L. Wallace.
Children and seniors are at higher risk, and residents should seek medical attention promptly if they suspect they have dengue fever. Symptoms 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 and, in rare instances, can lead to death.
DOH has determined that dengue fever is a reportable disease and all medical agencies, clinics and private physicians territory-wide are required to report any such cases to the department's Epidemiologist Dr. Eugene Tull, at 773-1311, Ext. 3241.
Wallace said that the Department's Environmental Health Division routinely conducts larviciding of large areas of stagnant water, which kills off the eggs present in mosquito breeding grounds.
There is new fogging equipment in each district being readied for deployment, and an announcement will be made for residents who want to request fogging in the future. However, studies have determined that fogging alone is an inefficient way of preventing the transmission of the Dengue virus and is urging residents to also take preventative measures.
"Residents place 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," the acting commissioner said. "These containers should be emptied as frequently as possible."
Residents should also protect themselves by repairing or replacing damaged screens or keeping windows and doors without screens closed. For very large puddles of water around the home or business, call the Environmental Health Division at 773-1311, ext. 3107 or 3109 on St. Croix and 715-5110 on St. Thomas.
Other safety measures include:
§ Wearing protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks when outdoors
§ Covering infant cribs with cotton mosquito netting
§ Using mosquito repellants containing DEET. Follow instructions carefully and use on arms, legs, ankles and nape of neck, but avoid eyes, lips, or bruised skin and avoid applying repellant to children under 2 years of age and to the hands of older children.

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