In July of this year, the Belize Ministry of Health issued a dengue alert in the country. Come August, Dr. Jerry Lanza, Medical Director of the Dr. Otto Rodriguez Poly Clinic confirmed that there was an outbreak of Dengue in San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. It was then that the Ministry of Health embarked on a countrywide Dengue Prevention Campaign which included San Pedro, Ambergris Caye.
A team of personnel from the Vector Control Unit was dispatched to San Pedro Town on Tuesday, August 20, to investigate and assess suspected cases of dengue that were reported in areas such as DFC, Boca del Rio and San Pablo. On Thursday, November 7, 2013, Ambergris Today met with Council Kenrick Brackett, Mr. Francis Westby, Dengue Technical Advisor from Belmopan and Mr. Egner Lalin, District Supervisor of the Vector Control Unit to find out the current status of dengue cases on the island.
The Town Council is providing assistance to Mr. Westby and Mr. Lalin while they are here on the island working on getting a full handle of the outbreak. The intervention methods being used are ultra-low volume (ULV) spraying, thermal spraying of houses, premises inspections, spraying of drains and issuing of bed nets to homes in high-risk areas for dengue.
The issuance of chemically-treated bed nets has proven to be the most effective form of personal protection to reduce dengue transmission. This initiative is free of cost to the residents and is being carried out in close collaboration with the San Pedro Town Council. The public is encouraged to take every precaution necessary to combat the breeding sites for the Aedes mosquitoes.
There have been 26 confirmed cases of dengue on the island since the outbreak and Mr. Westby explained that they have identified areas with the home infections, have carried out focal sprayings and are treating breeding sites as well. He also stressed that the public must to their part in helping in control the outbreak.
Residents are being asked to eliminate the places where the mosquito lays her eggs, such as containers that hold water in and around the home. In addition, residents are being asked to clean water containers at least every week, such as animal feeding bowls and flower pots, and cover water storage barrels. Residents should also get rid of all garbage lying around in the yard, especially large containers that can act as breeding sites for mosquitoes. If there is stagnant water in or around your yard, the Ministry of Health encourages pouring burned cooking oil in the area.
If anyone presents dengue-like symptoms they are encouraged to visit the poly clinic where rapid testing is available for immediate follow up treatment. The Ministry of Health will be conducting a health fair on Wednesday, November 13, 2013; all residents are invited to attend.