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Min. of Health places Belize on alert due to regional dengue outbreak

GeneralMin. of Health places Belize on alert due to regional dengue outbreak

The Ministry of Health has issued a press release to inform the general public of recent dengue outbreaks in some of the neighboring Central American countries.

Several dengue advisories have been issued in Honduras, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador following severe outbreaks infecting as many as 40,000 people and causing 26 deaths across Central America this year. A state of emergency had to be called in Honduras after a dengue outbreak killed 16 people, and over 12,000 more have been diagnosed with the illness in that country. Travelers to these countries are asked to exercise caution.

Dengue fever, also called breakbone fever, is an infectious tropical disease caused by the dengue virus and is passed from person to person by mosquitoes. The virus is difficult to treat and unlike malaria, there are no drugs to prevent it. Efforts to develop a vaccine have also been unsuccessful and the World Health Organization estimates that there are about 50-100 million infections every year, although other estimates suggest nearly 390 million.

Dengue is most common in Asia and India, but more cases have been popping up in the Caribbean and Latin America in recent years, states a CNN report. The Ministry of Health says that although the number of dengue cases has remained low in Belize during the first part of the year, they continue to execute the Dengue Prevention Plan countrywide. The Ministry is appealing to parents and children during their summer holidays to clean up their yards and properly dispose of old tires and eliminate water-holding containers that may become breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits dengue.

The public is advised to take every precaution and seek immediate medical attention if you experience a high fever and any of the following symptoms: headache, pain behind the eyes (retro-orbital pain), joint and muscle pain and rash. Residents are urged to use insect repellent to prevent mosquito bites, ensure their homes are properly screened and to keep their house windows open whenever the Ministry of Health is conducting spraying activities in order for the insecticide to reach inside the home.

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