Three vector control diseases have an impact in Belize, namely dengue, malaria, and chickengunya. Yesterday we confirmed reports that there is an outbreak of dengue in its nastiest form called hemorrhagic dengue fever. According to the Ministry of Health, there are a total of 261 laboratory confirmed cases of dengue in the entire country as opposed to 225 in 2014. That is a 16% overall increase since last year. Areas that have been mostly affected are Punta Gorda, Corozal and villages surrounding Belmopan including Camalote, Cotton Tree, San martin, Maya Mopan and Salvapan. Today, Kim Bautista, Chief of Operations of Vector Control, and Dr. Francis Murray, focal point communicable disease of the Ministry of Health, hosted the media to a press briefing where they expounded on the numbers that show an increase in hemorrhagic dengue cases.
“In terms of hemorrhagic dengue – if you understand, Dengue hemorrhagic fever comes about by a combination of two serotype of the four serotypes that exists with the dengue virus. If an individual is exposed at one point in their life, they build up immunity to that serotype. It there is another serotype being circulated and you are exposed to that serotype then it increases your risk for dengue hemorrhagic fever. What we see is that every three years in the region, you see an increase in the hemorrhagic cases because it is like a cycle. Just as the flu virus, every year it is a different one that’s why every year there is a different flu vaccine. This year, we have seen 15 alerts country wide for dengue hemorrhagic fever 5 of those cases coming from the western district. Of those, dengue hemorrhagic fever is a clinical diagnoses in some of these cases. If there are 5 alerts, it does not necessarily mean that there are five conformed cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever coming out of the west.”
“As far as we know, most of those who have been diagnosed with hemorrhagic dengue, as Mr, Bautista was saying, were clinical. At the end of the year or after we get these alerts, we have to go back and review the files and see if they were truly hemorrhagic dengue. As far as we know, there are no deaths up to now and all cases except one was said to be a severe and that person has survived. Up to today, we do know that there is a person at Western Regional who has also been diagnosed with hemorrhagic and the person is stable.