Dengue Sickness Affects Caribbean Communities

June 25, 2004

DENGUE has ravaged the country’sCaribbean coast with more tenacity thanother areas this year, claiming 51% of thecountry’s outbreaks of this mosquito transmitteddisease, according to publichealth officials.The reason, besides rain, humidity,trash and carelessness, is the particularstrain of the virus, officials said. The type 1strain provoked fevers and bodily pains inthousands of people on the Pacific coastand inland areas of the country last year,but spared the Caribbean. This year,according to Dr. Teresita Solano, chief ofthe Ministry of Health’s epidemiology unit,it is spreading through those communitieswhose residents did not develop antibodieslast year.More than 3,000 cases have beenreported so far this year, and 1,548 of thoseare in the Caribbean province of Limón.Solano blamed this on slow communityresponse to the health hazard.“People lost their fear of dengue and itdoesn’t matter to them,” she said.La Nación reported that one in fivehouses in Limón are full of potential mosquitohatcheries – anything that holds stagnantwater such as bottles, vases, tires, andany kind of trash that can trap rainwater.The waves of people seeking medicaltreatment in the area, an average of 62every week, have nearly exceeded hospitalcapacity. Dr. Guillermo Kivers of the TonyFacio hospital in Limón told La Nación,“They don’t let the bed cool before anothersick person arrives and takes it.”Seven of the cases this year have beenof the potentially fatal hemorrhagic strain.Two of those occurred in Limón.Hemorrhagic dengue can occur in peoplewho have previously been sick withdengue virus.

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