Caribbean hit by dengue fever20th July 2010
Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne virus, has caused a wave of recent deaths in the Carribean.
Health authorities there warned people that the disease could get much worse as the year advances.
The reason why the disease is so deadly this year seems to have to do with warm weather, which has produced a lot of mosquitoes.
The sheer number of cases has become a burden for the region's hospitals.
In the Dominican Republic, at least 27 deaths have been reported, and hundreds of people have been mobilised in a door-to-door information campaign.
In Trinidad, the hospitals are similarly overloaded, and there is a shortage of beds.
Kay Tomashek, epidemiology section chief of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's dengue branch in Puerto Rico, said that the island was experiencing a very large epidemic.
Tomashek said that at least five people had died already, with another 6,300 suspected cases reported by mid-July.
Hospitals in Trinidad are attempting to add beds to their already crowded buildings, and one death has been reported there.
Anton Cumberbatch, chief medical officer of Trinidad's health ministry, said that he was worried more people than usual will develop the deadly form of dengue fever.
He said that the risk and severity of the dengue situation seemed to be rapidly rearing its head.
In a children's hospital in Santiago, the capital of the Dominican Republic, four children have already died this week.
Bautista Rojas, the country's minister of health, said that there had already been at least 5,000 diagnoses this year.
Senen Caba, president of the Dominican Medical Association, said that emergency departments on the island were completely flooded.
He said that the mosquito population had exploded in number.
The islands of French Guiana, Guadeloupe and St Martin also have registered unusually high numbers.
In total, more than 16,700 total cases had been reported across the Caribbean through early June.
There are four types of dengue fever.
While the most benign variety of the disease makes people ill for about a week, people who have had one type are still vulnerable to the other three.
According to a recent study done on Key West residents in Florida, about 5% of the people have also been exposed to dengue fever.
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Title: Caribbean hit by dengue fever
Author: Luisetta Mudie
Article Id: 15559
Date Added: 20th Jul 2010