With the number of dengue fever cases in Guam now at 12 and eight being locally acquired, the Commonwealth Health Care Corp. is keeping tabs on the dengue outbreaks in neighboring Pacific Islands and urges the community to remain vigilant in the fight against the dengue virus, which is transmitted through mosquito bites.
The reports of the disease appearing in Guam have heightened alerts in the CNMI, prompting CHCC to advise travelers last Sept. 23 to take precautions when traveling to Guam. Guam reported a total of 10 dengue fever cases as of Sept. 21.
CHCC advises those who plan to travel off-island to use insect repellents and dress appropriately when outdoors to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes while off-islands and for at least two weeks after returning to the CNMI.
It is reported that only one in four individuals who are infected with the dengue virus will develop symptoms, but infected individuals without any symptoms can still be bitten by mosquitoes and pass on the infection to another person, so it is important to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes when returning to the CNMI until there is no chance of passing the virus.
To prevent the possibility of a dengue outbreak occurring in the CNMI, CHCC’s Bureau of Environmental Health is working with the Saipan Mayor’s Office, the Bureau of Environmental & Coastal Quality, Department of Public Lands, and the CNMI Zoning Office by inspecting residential properties to help eradicate mosquito breeding sitets. The inspections started in areas worst-affected by Super Typhoon Yutu, and are being done on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, as well as Saturdays as needed. Inspections are currently being conducted in Koblerville, and will move toward Aftena and San Antonio.
BEH deploys two-to-three person teams, and they are identified by the bright green or yellow vests that they wear. The BEH stressed that the purpose of these inspections is not to cite residents, but to help identify problem areas where mosquitoes breed, assisting in resolving the problem, and providing educational information on clean up and mosquito prevention to residents. BEH inspectors will also refer residents to appropriate services and agencies as necessary for further assistance.
The symptoms of dengue vary, from fevers and chills, to pain behind the eyes, rashes, nausea, vomiting, or joint pains. If you experience any of these symptoms, CHCC urges you to see a doctor right away. All travelers returning from an area with a dengue outbreak are being advised at customs to protect against mosquito bites for at least two weeks, and are being given educational material to take home.
CHCC reports that the best way to protect yourself and your family against dengue is to follow its “Fight the Bite” initiative. This initiative advises individuals to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and eliminating mosquito breeding areas in and around homes by using the following precautions: use insect repellent, wear appropriate clothing to avoid bites, put screens on windows and doors to repel the entry of mosquitoes, and to be careful during sunrise and sunset, as mosquitoes are most active on those times.