Reports that two Caribbean territories are experiencing outbreaks of dengue fever among their populations are raising concern among health professionals in Antigua and Barbuda.
Of particular concern is the possible overlap between dengue fever and the COVID-19 pandemic. Health officials say since both diseases are similar in respect of their symptoms, which include fever, patients affected by one could mistakenly conclude that they are affected by the other with dire consequences.
Senior Public Health Inspector at the Central Board of Health, Julienne Mannix, said what’s happening in the two Caribbean countries has increased the sense of urgency within her department. “We are watching what’s happening in neighbouring Caribbean territories St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines which are battling with their own dengue outbreaks.
“We are taking a proactive approach to the disease and launching an education campaign to inform residents of ways to reduce the aedes egypti population in the country,” she stated. Antigua and Barbuda has reported two cases of dengue fever so far and the health department wants to keep the number as low as possible. “The education programme is designed to inform and educate the public on ways to reduce the incidence of dengue in the country. Over the next weeks, our teams will be visiting schools, clinics and churches to spread the word on the prevention of dengue fever. Additionally, we will continue cleaning drains in the various communities as well as visiting homes to look for areas where mosquitoes may be breeding.”
CHB will launch public awareness activities, which will feature a Dengue Awareness campaign. “It is our intention to visit schools, churches, clinics and community groups,
to share ways in which the public can assist in reducing the mosquito population by way of source reduction,” Mannix explained.
The first visit will take place at the Green Bay Primary School at 9:00am on Tuesday followed by a visit to the Five Island Primary School which will receive two visits. The theme for the Campaign is: TOSS them OUT! CLEAN them OUT! and KEEP them OUT!