Now that we have our first locally transmitted case of dengue – raising our number of dengue diagnoses this year to three – we need to be more vigilant and proactive.
Without a known cure or immunization against the dengue virus, we must take extra steps to protect our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and island community.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever, a severe form of the virus, can claim lives. For survivors, the trauma can be long-lasting.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization say there's no direct cure for it. And they've said antibiotics, in particular, won't be useful.
The viral infection can be eased with the use of fever medicine and through lots of hydration, according to the CDC.
So what can we do to protect ourselves?
The dengue virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, so the most effective way to prevent future cases is to eliminate the mosquitoes that might bite infected people and then spread the virus to uninfected people, said Ann Pobutsky, a territorial epidemiologist at the Department of Public Health and Social Services.
The key thing is to avoid getting a mosquito bite.
Here are some tips from the WHO, CDC and from Post files:
• Empty containers, old tires and other items that can gather rain and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
• The type of mosquito that transmits the virus that causes dengue likes to bite during the daytime, so wear long sleeves and pants and consider a mosquito repellent spray.
• Avoid going outdoors if you don't want to wear protective clothing or put on repellent spray.
• Seal your homes and offices from the possible intrusion of mosquitoes.
• If it's impossible to fully mosquito-proof your home, consider a mosquito net when sleeping or a mosquito repellent that comes in the form of a coil. An electric bug zapper might also help.
The Department of Public Health and Social Services has had to strike a balance between getting people informed and not causing panic.
It's up to us as residents of this tropical island to reduce our risks. For as long as the rainy season is here, there will be lots of mosquitoes and an increased chance of contracting dengue fever.