MoH to “get tougher” in fight against dengue fever after one fatality recorded

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MoH to “get tougher” in fight against dengue fever after one fatality recorded

Chief Public Health Inspector Dr Mark Dookeran said the Ministry of Health is going to “get tougher” on delinquent households in the fight against the spread of dengue.

This after the country recorded its first confirmed fatality from the dengue fever virus since 2017.

Health Minister, Terrence Deyalsingh confirmed the case was that of someone from South Trinidad.
However, due to privacy concerns, the minister did not disclose any further details on the fatality saying, “we have to protect the family’s right to privacy, to let them mourn and come to terms with this.”

He also revealed that there have been 126 lab-confirmed cases of the disease, so far this year, in TT.

Dr Dookeran, speaking on TV6’s Morning Edition on Thursday said: “We have recognised that our education efforts are no longer enough and we are not getting the efforts we desire.

“Through the office of the public health inspectorate, we are going to inspect homes and if we find things that should not be, we will be serving notices and laying charges in court for people found to be delinquent in cleaning around their homes.

“Upon summary of conviction,” Dookeran said, “people can be charged up to $3,500 or six months imprisonment.”

Dookeran said the ministry intends to “break the chain of transmission” by using ultra low volume (ULV) spraying once a case is detected. ULV spraying is done by a truck-mounted device which can apply insecticide to large outdoor spaces.

This, he said, is usually done early in the morning as the aedes aegypti mosquito generally bites between dusk to dawn hours.

“It doesn’t put our workers at risk when they go in to treat the homes and can take out the infected adult mosquitoes.”

Once ULV spraying is completed, Dookeran said inspectors will visit the home of the affected resident to conduct perifocal work.

“What this means is that we go into the home to identify and inspect both existing and potential breeding sites.”

Dookeran said sites of interest include overgrown, bushy areas and stagnant water.

“Three of the four stages of a mosquitoes’ life cycle are spent in water. At any given time, thousands of larvae can be in stagnant water.

“It is much easier to kill that thousand larvae by knocking over a container as opposed to going around a community with a ULV machine to spray and using up all of our resources.”

As of April 30, 7.6 million cases of dengue have been reported globally with 3,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Latin America and the Caribbean reported 9.3 million cases of dengue, so far this year, twice the number of cases reported in all of 2023, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).

Dookeran said the transmission of dengue is not similar to covid which is transmitted through bodily contact. “You must be bitten by an infected mosquito to contract dengue.” Similarly, Dookeran said an uninfected mosquito can become carriers of the virus.

“All an uninfected mosquito needs is to come into contact with someone who has the virus by way of feeding on their blood.

“Once this blood is ingested the virus replicates in the mosquito and it becomes a carrier.

He urged the population to take precautions when spraying is being done.

“Before it happens, the public is informed of the date and time we’ll be spraying and the precautions they can take.”

He advised that while the chemicals are not sufficient to cause harm to humans, it can affect smaller animals like fishes and birds.