Ziak is transmitted by the Aedes Egypti mosquito

The Environmental Health Department is stepping up efforts to prevent an outbreak of the mosquito-borne Dengue disease in Dominica.

That’s according to Acting Chief Environmental Health Officer, Tassie Thomas.

Just last month, The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) advised countries to implement enhanced measures to reduce mosquito breeding and prevent the spread of disease.

“So we have heightened our mosquito surveillance at our ports of entries, for example, at the airport, we ensure that all flights coming in are disinfected or sprayed to prevent mosquitoes or whatever insect is on board that they are destroyed,” Thomas said.

She said the same measures have been taken at sea ports.

“At our seaports we have also done the same thing. For example, we ensure that all boats coming in are disinfected. We have also, [a] sanitation programme where, if the boat has been inspected and is certified, we will see to it that yes, we verify. That is the case…,” Thomas stated.

She also said that the Environmental Health Department was working with the agents of the Ferries to ensure that the cargo-hold area on the Ferry is always sprayed before it leaves the port of Guadeloupe and Martinique to come to Dominica.”

She said health officers are always on the lookout for anybody coming from the Ferry who may be showing signs and symptoms of the disease.

“We are also doing a lot of source reduction all over the country,” Thomas stated.

According to a recent report from CARPHA, the last major regional outbreak of Dengue occurred in 2009. Since then, the Region has experienced two large outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases, Chikungunya in 2014 and Zika in 2016, which CARPHA says are unlikely to reoccur soon. However, the regional health body points out that disease modelling predicts that another regional outbreak of Dengue may occur in the near future.

In 2018, Latin America showed an increase in the number of Dengue cases. More recently, the outbreak of Dengue in Jamaica has elevated the level of concern in other Caribbean islands.

Dengue is a flu-like illness that affects infants, young children and adults. Symptoms typically begin four to ten days after infection, and include a high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, and a characteristic skin rash.  This illness can evolve to severe dengue, characterized by potentially deadly complications, such as internal haemorrhaging, intense and continuous abdominal pain or tenderness and persistent vomiting. In some cases, Dengue may be severe and cause death.

Dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases threaten health, tourism, social and economic development, and a collaborative effort is required to reduce the spread of disease.

With the arrival of the rainy season within a few months, CARPHA recommends that mosquito control and awareness activities be intensified. Caribbean Ministries of Health are advised to:

  • Increase health promotion messages to prevent mosquitos biting and breeding
  • Combine efforts with communities to eliminate mosquito breeding sites
  • Intensify vector surveillance and control
  • Disseminate appropriate clinical care and treatment guidelines