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CARPHA tells regional health officials to prepare for 'severe' dengue outbreak

Uvalyn Daley, Acting Principal of Central High
 
With Jamaica now grappling with another death caused by dengue fever, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has called for health officials across the region to prepare for the possibility of a severe outbreak of the mosquito borne virus.
 
In a statement Thursday, CARPHA said the last major regional outbreak of dengue occurred in 2009. 
 
It said, since then, the region has experienced two large outbreaks of mosquito-borne diseases - Chikungunya in 2014 and Zika in 2016 -which are unlikely to reoccur soon.
 
CARPHA said disease modelling predicts that another regional outbreak of dengue may occur in the near future, adding that last year, Latin America showed an increase in the number of cases. 
 
CARPHA has also pointed to the recent outbreak of dengue in Jamaica, saying that it has elevated the level of concern in other Caribbean countries. 
 
The regional health agency is advising countries to implement enhanced measures to reduce mosquito breeding and prevent the spread of disease.
 
Research carried out by CARPHA and the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization shows that drums and tyres are the main mosquito breeding sources in Caribbean countries.
 
Symptoms of dengue 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 hemorrhaging, intense and continuous abdominal pain or tenderness and persistent vomiting. 
 
Jamaica has recorded 79 suspected and presumed confirmed dengue cases since the start of the year.
 
Speaking at Wednesday night's monthly meeting of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton disclosed that Jamaica recorded 996 cases last year.
 
He said the Ministry of Health is making progress in controlling the dengue outbreak and it is expected that there will be a lull in cases by March.  
 
Central High student dies 
 
Central High School in May Pen, Clarendon has implemented measures to prevent the spread of dengue fever at the institution after a student died of the virus.
 
Fourteen year-old Areel Foster died at Kingston Public Hospital on Wednesday.
 
Uvalyn Daley, Acting Principal of Central High, said several of the vector control measures had been implemented prior to Areel's death.
 
It was reported that Areel spent the Christmas Holidays in Portmore, St. Catherine.
 
On returning to her home in Clarendon, she fell ill and was later diagnosed with dengue.
 
She was admitted to May Pen Hospital then transferred to Kingston Public Hospital.
 
Areel last year represented Central High in TVJ's All Together Sing competition.
 
Miss Daley said grief counsellors visited Central High on Thursday to speak to Areel's colleagues.
 
She said students and staff were in a sombre mood. 
 


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