Dengue fever spikes in US Virgin Islands

Visitors and residents of the US Virgin Islands have been advised to take precautions and remain vigilant as new data has shown an increase in cases of dengue fever.

Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion said data collected by the Epidemiology Division up to June 24 showed there were eight dengue cases on St Thomas and one each on St John and St Croix.

Encarnacion noted that health officials know there are more cases across the territory than was reported in the last Epidemiological Update.

“We’re experiencing warmer and warmer temperatures as well as heavy downpours which are ideal conditions for mosquito breeding; I am encouraging everyone to take the precautions necessary to prevent widespread transmission,” said Encarnacion. “While in the increase is small, we know how easily dengue can spread and we know how dangerous it can be.”

Islanders and visitors have been urged to use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients: DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, para-menthane-diol, or 2-undecanone to keep mosquitoes away.

They have also been advised clean around their homes to reduce mosquito breeding sites.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne virus that spreads via the Aedes aegypti mosquito and can cause mild to severe and life-threatening symptoms.

The VI Health Department noted the most common symptom of dengue is fever with aches and pains (eye pain, typically behind the eyes, muscle, joint, or bone pain), nausea, vomiting and/or rash.

Dr Tai Hunte-Ceasar, Chief Medical Officer of the VI Department of Health, has encouraged anyone experiencing signs of dengue to get treatment as soon as possible.

“If you are experiencing symptoms, it is very important to go to your doctor and get tested to confirm if you truly have dengue or another illness. This is the only way we will get a correct understanding of rates of dengue in the community,” said Hunte-Ceasar.

Dengue virus cases across the Americas region have been increasing in recent months.

Over 5.2 million cases have been recorded in the region since January.

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