There have been 38 dengue-related hospitalisations so far this year, amid an increase in the number of suspected and confirmed cases.
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.
He 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 haemorrhagic 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, tyres 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 mosquito at the larvae stage, adding: “Fogging and inspections must be done in conjunction. People must not rely on fogging alone.”
The Chief Medical Officer explained that one reason there were not many confirmed cases was that 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 done to identify the virus.
Symptoms include fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and a red itchy rash.
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 said. The last dengue epidemic in Barbados was in 2016.