“At this point we are in an outbreak”. These were words of confirmation by Chief Medical Officer Dr Rhonda Sealey-Thomas whilst speaking on Observer AM.
According to reports there has been an increase in cases since August. In fact, the number of cases rose from 2 to 3 cases a week to about 80 cases a month with children 1 to 14 years old on island said to be the most affected by the disease.
Dr Sealey-Thomas shared they noticed an increase in patients exhibiting clinical dengue symptoms, specifically undifferentiated fever for which they carried out further investigations.
Acute undifferentiated fever (AUF) is a temporary febrile illness accompanied by non-specific symptoms.
“Coming down to the end of last year, we started seeing an increase in undifferentiated fever.
For instance, coming down with high fever and we did realize at that time that we did see an increase in the cases of dengue and that continued for a while up until early 2019.
We continued testing and we saw a decrease in the number of cases earlier this year and then what has happened and what we continue to see since August, something happened and we soon started to see an increase in the number of patients coming down with fever, rash, joint pain and we did have confirmation again that we had dengue in Antigua and Barbuda.”
In an attempt to combat the situation, Thomas revealed that a dengue task force (adhoc committee) has been revived.
“We have over the years gotten a committee that we put in place, an ADHOC committee that we reconvene whenever there is a dengue situation in Antigua and Barbuda. It’s multi-disciplinary and we convene those meetings and started to look more seriously at those situations and that included special surveillance, we had sessions with the division, reeducating them, letting them know the guidelines that have been published by PAHO.
“The purpose of that task force is to monitor the situation and take control measures to reduce mobility that is with the illness and complication of dengue,” she added.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), severe dengue is a leading cause of serious illness and death among children and adults in some Asian and Latin American countries but in Antigua and Barbuda, only one death has been linked to dengue complications thus far.
That incident according to reports occurred in March of this year.
Mrs. Thomas, we, have known of this outbreak since months ago. It is quite sad that you only speak when things have reached an epidemic stage. Thanks but no thanks.