There have been 38 hospitalisations so far this year related to suspected and confirmed cases of dengue fever.
This was revealed by Chief Medical Officer, Dr Kenneth George on Wednesday, as he appealed to residents to carry out regular inspections of their premises to eliminate Aedes Aegypti mosquito breeding sites.
George expressed concern about the increase in probable and suspected cases compared to last year. So far this year, there were 301 probable cases and eight confirmations of the disease, compared to 92 probable cases last year with no confirmations. No deaths were recorded over the two years, to date.
The Chief Medical Officer maintained that while dengue fever had an associated mortality related to severe dengue or haemorrhagic fever, it was a preventable disease.
“What is required is the cooperation of the public to make sure that premises are free of mosquito breeding sites. They should inspect premises one to two times a week, paying close attention to blocked guttering, plant pots, tyres and any other receptacles which may contain stagnant water,” he advised.
The Ministry of Health and Wellness scaled up house-to-house inspections and its weekly fogging exercise in response to the uptick in cases.
George explained that while fogging reduced the adult mosquito population, the household checks were necessary to get rid of the larvae stages of the mosquito, adding: “fogging and inspections must be done in conjunction. People must not rely on fogging alone”.
The Chief Medical Officer explained that one reason why there were not many confirmed cases was because samples needed to be received by the laboratory within two to three days of suspected infection in order for confirmatory tests to be done.
He urged anyone with suspected dengue symptoms to seek medical attention as early as possible so that testing can be carried out to identify the virus.
While dengue fever is endemic in Barbados and there was an increased number of cases this year, the situation has not yet reached epidemic proportions, the Chief Medical Officer revealed. The last epidemic in Barbados was in 2016.
Symptoms include fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pain, and a red itchy rash.