The Department of Public Health and Social Services is monitoring a suspected case of dengue fever on Guam, which officials believe is imported from a nearby country that has had an outbreak. According to a news release, the department is waiting on laboratory results for confirmation.
Public Health Director Linda DeNorcey said the public will be kept informed as more information comes in and reiterated that the specific type of mosquito that is the primary carrier of the disease is not on Guam.
"While Guam is free of endemic mosquito-borne diseases, it is not uncommon to have imported cases from returning residents or travelers," the release stated.
The Republic of Palau has a dengue outbreak, with 486 cases and one death. The Philippines has more than 146,000 cases and 622 deaths, according to the release. The Republic of the Marshall Islands has also reported a type of dengue outbreak, it added.
"People traveling to the Philippines, Palau or RMI should be vigilant about taking precautions and preventing mosquito bites," the release stated.
Dengue fever is caused by any one of four closely related dengue viruses, which are transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, according to Public Health.
While the species of mosquito that is the primary transmitter of the disease, Aedes aegypti, is not found on Guam, the Asian tiger mosquito – another competent transmitter of dengue fever – does exist on island.
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.
Generally, younger children and those with their first dengue infection have a milder illness than older children and adults, according to Public Health.
Dengue hemorrhagic fever, the severe form of the disease, involves a fever that lasts two to seven days, which may be followed by persistent vomiting, severe abdominal pain and difficulty breathing, the department stated.
The most effective preventative measure is draining water containers as mosquitoes need a source of water to complete their life cycle, according to the release from Public Health.
World Mosquito Day
Public Health is also recognizing World Mosquito Day on Aug. 20, a commemoration of the discovery between malaria transmission and mosquitoes in 1897 by British physician Sir Ronald Ross.
"The recognition is particularly poignant in our region as there are several neighboring islands within the Pacific that are experiencing outbreaks of dengue fever, which is another mosquito-borne disease," the release stated.
Public Health encourages practice of the "4Ds" to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne diseases.
This involves 1) draining water containers at least once per week, 2) dressing in long and loose-fitting clothing, 3) defending against mosquito bites using approved repellents, and 4) "dusk and dawn" – staying indoors during the early morning and evening, when mosquitoes are most active, the department stated.