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Health advises public to protect against dengue, remain vigilant

Health advises public to protect against dengue, remain vigilant

CHRISTIANSTED – Virgin Islands Health Commissioner Justa Encarnacion is encouraging the public to take steps to protect against dengue as the number of cases in the neighboring island of Puerto Rico reaches a record high.

Puerto Rico has declared a State of Emergency due to dengue with 549 cases reported as of Thursday, the highest number ever recorded for a three-month period in the Commonwealth. The mosquito-borne virus, which spreads via the Aedes aegypti mosquito, can cause mild to severe and life-threatening symptoms. 

“The territory has not seen a spike in dengue cases, but we remain very concerned with Puerto Rico’s high numbers,” said Commissioner Encarnacion. “Dengue is easily transmitted from one person to another through a mosquito bite. We are cautioning residents to remain vigilant and to take steps to prevent being infected.”

Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendations to prevent mosquito bites include:

To protect the home, the CDC recommends:

Additionally, the VI Department of Health’s Epidemiology Division conducts mosquito surveillance and test pools of mosquitoes for the presence of virus. The department also has the capacity to use both larvicides to kill mosquito larvae in large bodies of water, as well as outdoor adulticide to kill adult mosquitoes.

The VI Department of Health’s Epidemiology Division is monitoring the USVI (US Virgin Islands) for cases of dengue and working closely with its Puerto Rico counterpart and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Dengue Branch.

“We are conducting surveillance to know when cases are on the rise in USVI and then can respond accordingly. We have seen some cases but are not yet in an outbreak,” said Dr. Esther Ellis, Territorial Epidemiologist for the VI Department of Health.

Dr. Ellis noted that dengue outbreaks usually occur approximately every 10 years and that the most recent USVI dengue outbreak occurred 12 years ago.

“With upticks in neighboring regions and recent heavy rainfall which provides additional breeding opportunities for mosquitoes it’s highly likely,” Dr. Ellis said.

According to the World Health Organization, dengue is the most common mosquito-borne virus worldwide. More than 400 million people are infected every year. The virus is endemic, occurring regularly, in more than 100 countries in tropical and subtropical climates, mostly in urban and semi-urban areas, — and in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and American Samoa.

For more information about dengue, visit Dengue | CDC .

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