The Virgin Islands Health Department noted a minute number of people have tested positive for dengue, another mosquito-borne illness (like Zika), which marks its first confirmed case since 2017.
In order to decrease dengue’s spread (as well as other mosquito-borne viruses), the health department is asking everyone to take preventive mosquito control measures and personally protect themselves and loved ones.
According to Dr. Esther Ellis, V.I. Territorial epidemiologist, although the number of reported cases is minute right now, the conditions are ripe for a potential outbreak. She said it’s possible for additional dengue cases to be happening than what’s currently being reported, as some people may not or cannot seek treatment.
The health department released a statement saying it was testing close to 50 samples per week for dengue, Zika and chikungunya, another mosquito-borne virus.
What Are The Symptoms?
Dengue is spread when an infected mosquito bites someone. There are several symptoms, such as fever, joint pain, rash, headache, muscle pains, and red eyes. Since the symptoms are so mild and can last for a week after the bite, most people don’t know they have the disease. In some infected, there are no symptoms. In others, the disease is so severe, including high fever, severe rash and weight loss, that medical treatment is necessary.
The health department is conducting free testing for these viruses and encourages anybody who believes they have dengue or Zika seek treatment for their doctor to get tested. Doctors are also being asked to look for any signs in their patients.
Has Zika Been Reported In The V.I.?
There have been no Zika cases reported at this time. However, in 2016 and 2017, there were more than 2,200 cases reported in the outbreak, but officials feel that number was even higher. Zika can cause significant birth defects in babies. The last confirmed Zika case in V.I. was January 2018.
The Department of Health is asking all Virgin Island residents to make sure there are no breeding sites near their homes, such as collected debris or standing water. They also advise people to do the following:
- Use protective clothing – wearing light-colored long sleeves and pants
- Drain standing water – Eliminate any water source in and around the home that allows the mosquitos to breed and proliferate
- Guard skin – Use repellent to protect the skin and use an EPA-approved repellant on clothing
- Communicate – It’s important everybody is made aware of what can be done to reduce the mosquito population
Officials said by doing all these things, people won’t have to worry so much about the mosquito-borne viruses, but it’s going to take everybody doing their part to make that happen.