Residents Warned To Protect Against Risk of Dengue Fever

Recent and heavy downpours across the territory have made certain areas a haven for mosquito breeding and residents are urged to take steps to reduce their risk of Dengue Fever.

Children and seniors are at higher risk, but all residents should seek medical attention promptly if they suspect they have Dengue Fever, according to Acting Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Phyllis Wallace.

Symptoms include severe headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting, high fever and loss of appetite. A rash may also appear three to four days after the fever begins and, in rare instances, can lead to death.

“The increase in the mosquito population puts residents at risk for mosquito-borne illnesses, including Dengue Fever,” said Dr. Wallace.

The Department of Health has determined that Dengue Fever is a reportable disease and all medical agencies, clinics and private physicians territory-wide are required to report any such cases to the department’s Epidemiologist, Dr. Eugene Tull, at 773-1311, extension 3241.

The department’s Environmental Health Division routinely conducts larviciding of large areas of stagnant water, which kill off the eggs present in mosquito breeding grounds.

There is new fogging equipment in each district being readied for deployment and an announcement will be made for residents who want to request fogging in the future.

Studies have determined, however, that fogging alone is an inefficient way of preventing the transmission of the Dengue virus. Residents are urged to take preventative measures to protect themselves against mosquitoes.

“Residents place themselves at risk if there are old tires, plant containers or empty drums around their homes where water can collect and provide a breeding place for mosquitoes,” said Wallace. “These containers should be emptied as frequently as possible.”

Damaged screens should be repaired or replaced and windows and doors without screens should be kept closed. For very large puddles of water around the home or business, call the Environ-mental Health Division at 715-5110.

Other safety measures include:

— Wearing protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants tucked into socks when outdoors.

— Covering infant cribs with cotton mosquito netting.

— Using mosquito repellents containing DEET. Follow instructions carefully and use on arms, legs, ankles and nape of neck.

Avoid eyes, lips or bruised skin and avoid applying repellent to children under two years old and to the hands of older children.