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DENGUE CLAIMS FIRST VICTIM Ministry of Health Says Maybe Two

August 16
11:59 2019

Two mothers are dead and Dengue fever has been confirmed to be the cause of death in one and suspected to be the cause of the other; and the Ministry of Health is saying these mothers’ deaths could have been completely avoided if only the communities they live in had taken the time to clean up yards, public spaces, and overgrown lots where the aedes egypti mosquito looks for water receptacles to breed. More bad news is that the younger sister of one of the victims has been transported to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital from Orange Walk and is also now being hospitalized for a severe case of dengue fever.

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The two deaths occurred one day apart – one in Orange Walk Town and the other in Dangriga Town. And although the victims never knew each other, their plight was the same and their deaths came frighteningly soon after they sought medical assistance.

Carmelita Chi, 30, had just undergone a Caesarian section on July 17 in what her husband described to the Reporter as a complicated surgery in which she lost a lot of blood. Two weeks later, on Friday, August 2, she developed a temperature and complained of experiencing painful joints. She took a test that determined she had Dengue fever and she was hospitalized at the Northern Medical Plaza and sent home with medication. When her condition did not improve by August 6th, she returned to the facility and she was given IVs for dehydration and kept for observation and then released. But by Friday, August 9th – a week after she first fell ill, she was rushed back to the medical facility in a much worse condition, very weak. She was again treated and referred to the Northern Regional Hospital for a blood transfusion since the privately-owned Medical Plaza does not have a blood bank. Her conditioned worsened at the Northern Regional Hospital over Friday night and she died around 1:00 Saturday morning.

Amilcar Chi, Carmelita’s husband told this newspaper on Thursday that the same day he buried his wife – Sunday, August 11th – her younger sister, Mariela Escalante fell ill with the same symptoms that his wife had. Tests also confirmed Dengue fever and she sought treatment at the Northern Regional Hospital when she felt no better by Tuesday. She was given medication to address the fever and pain and released later that day. By Thursday, she returned to the hospital in a worse condition and there she started to throw up blood. She was referred to the KHMH where she is admitted now, with a low blood count.

The second death in Dangriga involved a mother who gave birth on August 1 and went home. She returned to the hospital a few days later with a mild fever. She had reportedly been going to the hospital since 2016 for treatment for mild fever, but it never got any worse to require an analysis. This time was reportedly no different and she never showed any signs of internal bleeding, but her condition rapidly deteriorated.

The areas where the deaths occurred are in the two areas of the country that have recorded a spike in the cases of Dengue and the deaths have come as a blow to the Ministry of Health, which places high priority on maternal and child health Maternal and Child Health Technical Advisor in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Natalia Largaespada Beer told the Reporter on Thursday that a victim who has been bitten by an infected mosquito can go into shock from day one. She shared that not too long ago a report was done by a health centre of a cluster of persons suffering from fever compatible with dengue. She explained that the Ministry dispatched a team to the area and found an unkempt yard with empty coconut shells that contained dirty water that the mosquitoes had been using as a breeding ground.

Dengue is 100 percent preventable, she emphasized. “It doesn’t matter how much we spray, if we don’t destroy the mosquito breeding sites, we will always have the virus circulating. You could have dengue and I don’t have dengue and I don’t get it from you if there were no mosquitoes. But if you have Dengue and the mosquito bites you and then comes and bites me, that’s how it’s spread,” she said, urging that the most effective intervention is to destroy the breeding areas by cleaning up our yards and surrounding areas.

Up to this week, there have been a total of 782 confirmed laboratory cases and 512 clinical confirmed cases of dengue in Belize, bringing the total number of cases to 1,294 from both the public and private sectors. This exceeds the 2018 total by 220%, and that is because it is expected to get even worse with the rainy season yet to intensify. Of the total number of infections, 76% are from the Orange Walk, Stann Creek and Cayo districts, and over 30% of the cases are among the youngest age group. Of the total number of cases, 53 are severe, and several have been in high-risk groups including the maternal, elderly and pediatric groups.

Since Dengue was first detected in Belize in 1978, the disease is affecting more people in rural communities than in urban areas. Historically, the trend shows a relatively low number of cases during the dry season which is from January to the end of May, followed by a sharp increase in the middle of June extending to the middle of October. Between October and December, there is a gradual decrease in the number of cases.

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