The Aedes aegypti mosquito can transmit the Zika or Dengue virus. (Photo from Yale University School of Public Health)
Persistent rainfall is a cause for concern throughout the area as stagnant water encourages mosquito breeding.
According to the VI Department of Health, there is currently no established dengue transmission in the territory. Territorial epidemiologist Ester Ellis is aware of the omnipresent threat.
“Standing water is always a problem as it is an ideal environment for mosquitoes to breed. We have the particular mosquito species here that can spread diseases like dengue, chikungunya and zika, ”Ellis said in an email to the source on Tuesday regarding the mosquito species Aedes aegypti.
Health has only reported one case of dengue so far this year, but those who have the virus may not seek testing. An outbreak can recur at any time, particularly if local herd immunity wears off. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Herd immunity occurs when a large part of a community is [the herd] becomes immune to a disease, making the disease unlikely to spread from person to person. “In the Virgin Islands, immunity can fluctuate when people without immunity move into the area.
Dengue fever is spread by being bitten by a mosquito. The most common symptoms are fever, rash, joint pain, or red eyes. Other common symptoms are muscle pain and headache. Many people may not realize they have been infected with the virus, as symptoms can be mild and last for several days to a week after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Others may be infected and have no symptoms, or symptoms can be severe with a high fever, severe convulsions, a severe rash, and weight loss.
Ellis said dengue outbreaks are currently occurring on neighboring islands and that about 1 in 20 people who develop dengue develop severe dengue, which can lead to shock, internal bleeding, and even death.
“If you have had dengue fever in the past, the more likely you will develop severe dengue fever. Infants and pregnant women are at higher risk of developing severe dengue fever, ”Ellis said.
Dengue virus and the virus that causes COVID-19 can cause similar symptoms in the early stages, according to the CDC. For more information on the differences between the two diseases, please visit https://www.cdc.gov/dengue/healthcare-providers/dengue-or-covid.html
The Ministry of Health urges Virgin Islanders to ensure there are no mosquito breeding sites in their vicinity by removing debris and draining excess water from plant pots. Some other steps anyone can take to protect themselves from dengue fever and other mosquito-borne viruses:
– Dress: wear protective clothing – long sleeves, long pants and bright colors.
– Drainage: Remove water containers in and around your home that can act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
– Defend: Use repellent on exposed skin and treat clothing with one of several EPA-approved repellants.
– Discuss: Spread the word about the simple things you can do to make a difference.
For local information on dengue virus or to get free services from the Department of Health, call the Department of Health Epidemiology at 340-718-1311 or visit www.doh.vi.gov or their Facebook page at www.facebook. com / virginislandsDOH.