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Wednesday, December 7, 2022
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Dengue Cases Confirmed in Territory

Confirmed cases of dengue are being reported in the territory, according to the Department of Health, which is asking residents who exhibit symptoms (which include nausea and eye, joint and muscle pain) to seek immediate medical care.

Two cases have been confirmed: one in the St. Thomas-St. John district and the other a visitor to the island of St. Croix, who tested positive for dengue. Neither individuals, a 58-year-old woman and 17-year-old male, were hospitalized, according to a statement from the Health Department.

Health is also awaiting confirmation of another suspected dengue case in the St. Croix district.

Dr. Thomas Morris, a Health Department epidemiologist, said dengue cases can only be confirmed through testing, and reminded healthcare providers they should immediately report suspected cases to the department, as mandated by law.

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A Notification of Infectious Disease Form should be submitted via confidential fax to 713-1508. The form can be downloaded from the Health Department website: www.healthvi.org.

“Increased rains can make certain areas near the home a haven for mosquito breeding and place individuals at risk for dengue,” Acting Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett said in the statement.

“We went through both the hurricane and rainy seasons last year without a positive case of dengue being reported and with these confirmed cases, we urge residents to be vigilant and help their communities and the Department of Health stop the spread of dengue by doing basic things.”

Residents should:
– scour the yards each time it rains and empty receptacles with water that could provide a breeding ground for the mosquitoes that transmit dengue;
– keep discarded tires in dry place or punch holes in tires so that water can seep out;
– put plants that are currently in water, into soil and empty flowerpot vases weekly;
– keep water barrels tightly sealed;
– cover or turn pet dishes and buckets that hold water upside down;
– place a screen or mesh over the overflow pipe of cisterns;
– repair or replace damaged screens and keep windows and doors without screens closed;
– cover infant cribs with mosquito netting;
– and spray dark closets often.

Use mosquito repellants containing DEET. Follow instructions carefully and use on arms, legs, ankles and neck. Avoid applying repellant to eyes, lips or bruised skin; to children under 2 years old; and to the hands of older children

Dengue fever is caused by a virus transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito and symptoms include headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite. Residents should seek immediate care if they have those symptoms, Morris said.

More complicated cases of dengue can result in dengue hemorrhagic fever which is characterized by high fever, bleeding and circulatory failure and, in rare instances, may result in death.

Morris also urges residents to spray dark closets as the mosquito that causes dengue is usually in the house.

“They hide in dark closets and sleep when we sleep and are awake when we are awake,” he said.

Plaskett said that Health is also tracking reports of dengue in nearby Puerto Rico.

“The Virgin Islands is home to many Puerto Rico natives, many of whom travel back and forth between islands so we urge residents who experience dengue symptoms after traveling to seek immediate care,” Plaskett said.

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