The Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory has reported an increase in positive samples for dengue fever in Barbados.
As a result, health officials are urging Barbadians to take precautions to avoid contracting the virus, which is transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
The laboratory indicated that five positive cases of dengue – three cases of Type 2 and two cases of Type 3 were recorded in August. Additionally, four positive cases of the virus – two cases each of Type 2 and Type 3 – were recorded, so far, for September.
This profile is somewhat different from earlier this year, when Types 1 and 3 were the main strains circulating. However, the Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory reported that these results were in keeping with the strains that are currently circulating in the Americas.
In light of the increase in cases, Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenneth George, encourages members of the public to report mosquito sightings to the Environmental Health Departments at the polyclinics nearest to them.
“Once those reports are received, the environmental health officers will go out to those districts and carry out investigations,” he said.
The Ministry currently conducts fogging in “problem areas” where it receives several reports about mosquito breeding.
The CMO noted that the likelihood of severe dengue is increased when there are multiple strains of the virus circulating. He added that severe dengue can include shock syndromes and hemorrhaging.
The Ministry reminded health providers to remain vigilant for the warning signs of severe dengue, which usually occur after the fever has subsided and may include, severe abdominal pain and signs of bleeding, for example, from the gums.
“In addition, all unexplained fevers with accompanying headaches, muscle pains or rash should be reported to your primary care physician. The Best-dos Santos Public Health Lab remains on alert. It is, at this time, able to process excess samples,” Dr George explained.
He pointed out that while the Ministry of Health and Wellness remained committed to reducing the mosquito burden in the country, it could not do it alone and needed the public’s cooperation.
The Chief Medical Officer advised Barbadians to check water they have stored and indoor plants regularly for mosquito larvae, and change the water in the overflow dishes of plant pots every three to four days.
He further suggested that persons wear mosquito repellent during peak biting times – dusk and dawn; wear light-coloured, long-sleeved clothing; and inspect old tyres for water collection and drain them, once necessary.
Mosquito nets should also be used over infant beds, carriers, cribs and strollers; and window and door screens should be installed to keep out mosquitoes.
The Ministry encourages health providers to send samples from persons suspected of having dengue to the public health lab for definitive diagnosis and typing of the specific dengue strains.