Acting Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett on Wednesday said the Department of Health has received reports of confirmed cases of Dengue Fever in the territory and is urging residents who exhibit symptoms to include nausea, eye, joint and muscle pain, to seek immediate medical care.
A Dengue Fever case was confirmed in the St. Thomas-St. John district and the other involved a visitor to the island of St. Croix, who tested positive for Dengue Fever. Neither individuals, a 58-year-old woman and 17-year-old male, were hospitalized.
The Department of Health is also awaiting confirmation of a suspected Dengue Fever case in the St. Croix district.
Dr. Thomas Morris, DOH Epidemiologist, said that Dengue Fever cases can only be confirmed through testing and reminds all health care providers that all suspected cases should immediately be reported to the Department of Health by law. A Notification of Infectious Disease Form should be submitted via confidential fax to 713-1508. The form can be downloaded from the DOH website
Last week, the Department issued its annual Dengue Fever Advisory, to coincide with the Hurricane Season, which runs June 1 through November 31, 2012.
“Increased rains can make certain areas near the home a haven for mosquito breeding and place individuals at risk for Dengue Fever,” Plaskett said. “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 Fever by doing basic things.”
- 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
- Spray dark closets often
- Use mosquito repellants containing DEET. Follow instructions carefully and use on arms, legs, ankles and nape of neck. Avoid applying repellant to eyes, lips or bruised skin and 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, Dr. Morris said.
More complicated cases of Dengue Fever can result in Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever which is characterized by high fever, bleeding and circulatory failure and in rare instances, may result in death.
Dr. 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.
Acting Commissioner Plaskett said the that VI Department of Health is also tracking reports of Dengue Fever 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 Fever symptoms after traveling, to seek immediate care,” Plaskett said.