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Significant Increases in Reported Cases of Dengue in Saint Lucia

The Ministry of Health and Wellness continues to note significant increases in the reported cases of dengue in Saint Lucia. This is particularly concerning as both serotypes 2 and 3 have been recorded to date and we have noted quite a few infections in children.

Most of the reported cases are concentrated in the northern, central and eastern parts of the island. Cases are reported in areas such as Reduit, Morne Road, Castries City, Milliet and Richfond. Cases have also been reported in the south and west of the island but to a much lesser extent.

Dengue is a viral illness spread by the bite of the species Aedes aegypti mosquito and, to a lesser extent, Aedes Albopictus. The mosquito lives in urban habitats and breeds mostly in man-made containers.

Dengue is endemic to Saint Lucia, meaning that there is continued local transmission which often peaks during and after rainy seasons.

There are four distinct, but closely related, serotypes of the virus that cause dengue (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4). Persons receive lifelong immunity against a serotype once infected with it; however, this immunity does not extend to the other serotypes. In fact, infection with one serotype makes an individual more susceptible to a more severe dengue if that individual becomes infected with another serotype.

Dengue viral disease has an incubation period of 4–10 days after the bite from an infected mosquito. About 75% of dengue infections are asymptomatic or produces a very mild febrile illness which may be confused with other illnesses. Persons with mild dengue may present with fever, accompanied by a rash, nausea/vomiting, pain behind the eye, muscle and joint pain.

In its more severe form, persons may progress to bleeding from the gums or nose, vomiting blood and passing blood in the stool. They may also experience severe abdominal pain and/or excessive vomiting which may lead to dehydration. There is no specific treatment for dengue and management is supportive based on clinical presentation.

Testing for dengue is available in Saint Lucia and the Ministry of Health and Wellness urges persons who may be experiencing signs and symptoms to seek care at their nearest Wellness Centre.
Because the vector requires water to breed, the public is asked to assist in the control of dengue by eliminating breeding sites in and around their homes. The vector is capable of breeding in the smallest of receptacles so frequent checks around the home are essential to combat the spread of dengue.

Persons are also advised to avoid the indiscriminate dumping of garbage, which also serves as a breeding ground for the mosquito. Please adhere to the scheduled garbage collection days and times. If you have been diagnosed with dengue, please sleep under a mosquito net to avoid being bitten by the mosquito. The use of insect repellent is also recommended to control the spread of dengue virus. Together we can break the transmission cycle.

The Ministry of Health and Wellness will continue to provide the public with updates on the dengue situation in Saint Lucia.

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