Minister Michael Darville

STATEMENT| The Ministry of Health & Wellness is reporting an increase in the number of new positive cases of Dengue Fever in country. Today, the Minister of Health & Wellness the Honourable Dr. Michael R. Darville confirmed that sixteen (16) cases are now confirmed in New Providence. He added that there is a suspected case in Abaco, awaiting testing. During a press conference to announce the status of Dengue in the country and prevention tips, the Health Minister confirmed that three (3) persons have been hospitalized, with one (1) person having to be placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

The Health Minister urged the public to adhere to the personal and environmental protocols to reduce an increase in cases.

Flanked by a core team of senior health officers and a representative from PAHO and the Vector Control Unit in the Department of Environmental Health Services, Dr. Darville carefully outlined the critical need for the public to participate to the fullest extent in preventing an increase in cases, “In 2011, the Bahamas experienced a severe outbreak of Dengue Fever and at that time a significant number of the population presenting to our clinics and hospitals with mild symptoms of Dengue were confirmed positive for Serotype 1 and Serotype 2. Today we have lab confirmation of a case with Serotype 3 which is of concern. This means that if someone who has experienced Dengue Type 1 & 2 from the previous outbreak and they are infected with Type-3 they are at serious risk for severe illness and hospitalization, and even death.”

Minister Darville confirmed that at the clinic level the Ministry is coordinating resources to stage assessment and treatment at public clinics to reduce further overwhelming of Emergency Services at the Princess Margaret Hospital. He also announced the launch of a hotline which will be a first point of information and guidance for members of the public.

Residents are advised that Dengue Fever can cause serious illness including severe dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome which happens when blood vessels become damaged and leaky and a decrease in clot-forming cells (platelets) occurs. This can lead to shock, internal bleeding, organ failure and death. Symptoms of Dengue Fever include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, rash, aches and pains such as eye pain – typically behind the eyes, muscle, bone and joint pain. Persons experiencing fever and two or more of these symptoms should see a health care provider.

Dengue Fever is a viral illness, spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Although this mosquito can bite at any time it is more active shortly after dawn and before dusk. To protect oneself, despite the heat, persons are encouraged to wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers of light materials and stay hydrated. The public is further advised to use approved mosquito repellants containing DEET, Icaridin, or IR3535, and according to the product’s instructions.

The mosquito that causes Dengue Fever lives and multiplies in objects which harbor standing water including tires, buckets, derelict vehicles, old appliances, bottles and bottle caps. Persons are encouraged to cover water storage receptacles, check potted plants and bromeliads for standing water, and ensure screens at doors and windows are intact.

The Ministry has advised that the National Communicable Disease Surveillance Unit (NDSU), in collaboration with the Department of Environmental Health Services (DEHS), has been actively monitoring this situation and has instituted preventive mosquito breeding measures. Regularly scheduled fogging continues as weather permits.