Many of us were glad after a suspected dengue fever case on Guam was ruled out a week ago.
But we shouldn't be complacent.
We’ve had confirmed cases before, as recently as 2017. But they were in people who contracted the disease elsewhere.
Island communities close to Guam have had full-blown outbreaks of dengue, including in the Philippines and in Palau, as well as in other areas linked to Guam via air travel.
In the Philippines, 456 people have died from dengue fever since January and health authorities there declared a “national dengue alert” last month.
In Palau, 174 cases of dengue fever were reported between Dec. 1, 2018, and May 5, 2019, according to the Palau Ministry of Health.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands declared a dengue fever emergency on Aug. 8 after one confirmed and 21 other probable cases were reported on the island of Ebeye. Marshall Islands Secretary of Health Jack Niedenthal issued a travel advisory restricting domestic travel from Ebeye to the outer atolls.
Dengue fever is characterized by a high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash and mild bleeding around the nose or gums. In some cases, it can be fatal.
Director Linda DeNorcey has said the Department of Public Health and Social Services will continue to monitor outbreaks in the region and keep Guam residents informed.
Dengue is transmitted through the female Aedes aegypti mosquito.
With the recent rains on Guam and the island’s continuing problem with illegally dumped tires and other junk that can become breeding places for mosquitoes, now is the time for Guam residents, in partnership with the island’s mayors, to focus efforts on eliminating possible mosquito breeding grounds in neighborhoods and villages.
Mayors can show leadership on this effort. This is something more worthwhile for the island’s 19 mayors to be focusing on than other things they’ve been criticized for recently.