Health authorities in Jamaica over the weekend issued warnings about a dengue fever outbreak with more than 500 suspected or confirmed cases so far.
"The dominant strain is Dengue Type 2, which last predominated in 2010," the Jamaica Ministry of Health and Wellness said in a statement on Sept. 23 via the government-backed Jamaica Information Service, which added that there are "no dengue-related deaths classified at this time." However, it stressed that six deaths are under investigation.
As of Sept. 22, there were 565 confirmed, suspected, and presumed cases of dengue fever, a virus that's spread by certain species of mosquitoes. There have been 78 confirmed cases so far in Jamaica's capital, Kingston, as well as in St. Thomas and St. Catherine parishes, according to the bulletin.
“Meanwhile, approximately 500 temporary vector control workers have been engaged and deployed across the island to high-risk communities along with 213 permanent workers,” the Ministry of Health and Wellness stated.
It declared a dengue fever outbreak for all of Jamaica on Sept. 23. “This means, the country has seen an increase in the number of cases compared to what is normally seen during these months of the year,” the health ministry stated.
The ministry called on people to not use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and diclofenac to treat suspected dengue symptoms. It said that such medications can make the symptoms worse. However, health officials said that acetaminophen or paracetamol—commonly known by the brand name Tylenol—can alleviate some of the symptoms.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito “breeds in any containerized environment” that can hold water, including buckets, tires, animal feeding containers, pots, and barrels, according to the health ministry.
“Persons are urged to play their part in ensuring that the cases are minimized by monitoring water-storage containers for mosquito breeding, keeping surroundings free of debris, destroying or treating potential mosquito breeding sites, wearing protective clothing, using mosquito repellent and, as much as possible, staying indoors at dusk with windows and doors closed,” the statement said.
“Find out the places where mosquitoes breed, and prevent water from gathering in those areas. Use tiki tiki fish in stagnant water like pools, and the fish will eat the mosquito larvae thus preventing the life cycle,” Ms. Brown told local media.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that dengue viruses can be spread to people via the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito, which tends to populate tropical and subtropical areas.
About 1 in 4 people who get infected with dengue fever will develop symptoms such as nausea, rash, aches and pains, and vomiting, according to the CDC. It takes about a week to recover.
"If you have had dengue in the past, you are more likely to develop severe dengue," the CDC states. "Infants and pregnant women are at higher risk for developing severe dengue."
“Persons experiencing fever, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, bleeding under the skin (petechial rash), feeling very weak, or getting confused, are to seek immediate medical attention,” she said.
In mid-August, officials in Florida warned that 10 locally acquired dengue fever cases had been reported in the state so far in 2023. In a bulletin, the Florida Health Department said that Broward County was placed under a mosquito-born illness alert until the end of this year after two cases were found in the county.
"Dengue is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and is not normally present in Florida. However, infected travelers can bring the virus back to Florida mosquitoes," the Florida health agency said in August.