St. Lucia has recorded its first casualty to the mosquito-borne dengue fever, two months after declaring an outbreak of the disease.
According to the Ministry of Health, the victim is an adult male who was hospitalized after presenting with signs and symptoms of Severe Dengue Infection. To date, the island has recorded a total of 540 confirmed cases of Dengue Fever.
“Although cases have been identified throughout the island, most of the confirmed cases are concentrated in the northern region in areas such as Castries, Gros Islet and Central Babonneau,” said National Epidemiologist, Dr Michelle Francois.
“The ages of confirmed cases range from 3 weeks to 84 years, with the age group 5-14 years accounting for approximately 39 percent of cases.”
Dengue Fever is a viral illness spread by the bite of the species Aedes aegypti mosquito and, to a lesser extent, the Aedes Albopictus mosquito.
It is endemic to Saint Lucia, meaning that there is continued local transmission which often peaks during and after rainy seasons.
There are four serotypes of the virus that cause Dengue Fever (DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4) and in the past, all four serotypes of the virus have been known to circulate. While persons receive lifelong immunity against a serotype once infected with it, cross-immunity to the other serotypes after recovery is only temporary.
The Ministry says for 2020, both serotypes two and three have been in circulation, thereby increasing the likelihood of persons presenting with the severe form of Dengue Fever.
“About 75% of dengue infections are asymptomatic or produces a very mild febrile illness. Persons with mild Dengue Fever may present with fever, headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains and a red itchy rash. With severe Dengue Fever, persons may experience bleeding from the gums or nose, vomiting blood or passing blood in the stool and/or severe abdominal pain. Approximately 5% of persons progress to this severe form of dengue infection,” said Francois.