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14 confirmed dengue cases on St. Maarten from Jan 1 to 28, epidemic on St. Martin


~36 clinical cases, authorities on alert~

PHILIPSBURG–Authorities in Dutch St. Maarten will be on “alert mode” for dengue fever given the recent announcement by French St. Martin that they are entering into the beginning of an epidemic phase.

The Health Ministry’s Collective Prevention Services (CPS) reported that from January 1 to 28, it has received reports of 36 clinical cases fitting the dengue fever case definition; of these 14 were confirmed as dengue fever.

“Based on the reported numbers and the reported dengue situation by our French colleagues who have announced that they are entering into the beginning of epidemic phase, CPS will be in alert mode and will continue to monitor the developments of reported numbers,” CPS said in a press release on Wednesday night.

Officials from the Ministry of Public Health attended a meeting with French officials on Monday at the Prefecture, to discuss the dengue situation and to review the reported numbers and actions for both sides.

CPS is urging physicians to be on the alert to the presenting symptoms and to order the necessary lab tests. Dengue symptoms, which are similar to the flu symptoms, can include fever, headache, muscle and joint pains, nausea/vomiting, rash and hemorrhagic manifestations.

Persons with these symptoms are asked to ask their physician to request a lab test for dengue, avoid pain relievers that contain aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

This information is essential and vital to the Ministry of Public Health in determining the public health situation of the nation and to strategically plan its response to the identified risk, it was stated in the release.

Last week CPS announced that the country diagnosed 35 cases of dengue fever compared to 22 in 2011, and according to CPS, this signals a potential risk if the mosquito population grows and requested the community to be proactive in keeping their environment free of mosquito breeding sites.

CPS said it maintains its message from last week that it is necessary for the community to continue to take measures on the elimination of mosquito breeding sources throughout the year. “Let us be proactive and not wait until the numbers increase to take action.”

Dengue fever is transmitted by the female vector Aedes Aegypti mosquito. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito is distinguished by its markings. The body of the mosquito has alternate black and white horizontal stripes. The Aedes Aegypti mosquito lays its eggs in clear (clean) stagnant water. Within eight days the mosquito can complete its life cycle from egg to larvae to pupae, and to an adult mosquito.

CPS is calling on the community to implement mosquito preventive measures in order to prevent vector borne diseases. Measures should be taken in and around the workplace, social gatherings and living quarters to eliminate mosquito breeding sources.

Minister of Public Health Cornelius de Weever’s “Get Checked” campaign is in line with CPS’ appeal for residents and business owners to check in and around their homes and businesses in order to reduce breeding sites of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. An increase in the mosquito population puts residents at risk.

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