There is a dengue fever outbreak in Barbados.
The confirmation came from the Ministry of Health and Wellness, and Chief Medical Officer, The Most Honourable Dr Kenneth George, disclosed that the threshold was reached at the end of September. There were 518 recorded cases compared to the same period in 2022, when there were 241 cases.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness classifies a case of dengue fever as both suspected and confirmed.
Of the 40 confirmed cases of dengue for the year, 28 were recorded in September.
“These recent increases signal the start of a dengue fever outbreak in Barbados in September 2023. There were no confirmed cases in 2022,” the Chief Medical Officer stated.
The Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) has also advised that there have been outbreaks in Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Eastern Caribbean, with dengue virus serotype 2 resulting in some hospitalisations. There have also been recorded rising cases in the OECS, including Grenada.
The World Health Organisation recently indicated that increased cases of mosquito-borne disease were likely in Europe, the United States of America and Africa, as a result of climate change (warmer, wetter and less reliable climate).
Dengue fever is an acute mosquito-borne febrile illness caused by infection with one of the four known dengue serotypes. It is endemic in Barbados, with occasional outbreaks.
The public is reminded of the symptoms, which include headaches, muscle and joint pains, vomiting and a characteristic skin rash. Most cases are self-limiting and recovery generally takes two to seven days.
In severe cases, haemorrhagic symptoms and organ failure can occur, which may, on occasion, result in shock and death. The likelihood of adverse outcomes occurs when there are multiple strains circulating. The Best-dos Santos Public Health Laboratory has advised that serotypes 1, 2 and 3 are circulating in Barbados.
George urged members of the public to take immediate protective actions. These include:
Source reduction – removal of sites and receptacles where stagnant water can collect. For example, the overflow dishes of plant pots in homes, plant cuttings and discarded tyres,
using mosquito repellent on the skin,
wearing light-coloured, long-sleeved shirts and long pants, particularly during peak biting times – dusk and dawn,
using mosquito nets over infant beds, cribs, carriers and strollers,
installing window and door screens to keep out mosquitoes.
Additionally, George advised people who have an unexplained fever or exhibit any of the other symptoms mentioned above, to seek medical attention. A blood test will be required for confirmation of dengue fever.
The Chief Medical Officer said that the Ministry of Health and Wellness would use the location of reported suspected and confirmed dengue cases to inform its fogging campaign. He further advised that any unusual increases in mosquito sightings should be reported to the environmental health department of the nearest polyclinic. To date, there have been no deaths attributed to dengue fever. (MHW/BGIS/SAT)