The Daily Herald writes that a press meeting was held on St. Eustatius on Monday to inform the public about the increase of mosquito-borne infections Dengue and Chikungunya on the island. Island Governor Berkel, Dr. Sharda Baboe and Director of Health Carol Jack-Roosberg were present at the briefing to inform the public about the increase in cases of the diseases on the island.
The Governor said that there was an increase in rain fall, due to it being the peak of the hurricane season, which has resulted in an increase in stagnate water. This in turn, led to an increase in mosquitoes. The Health Department along with the Disaster Committee have joined forces to combat this issue.
For the last three-and-a half months, out of all samples submitted to the Lab for testing, 22 were positive for chikungunya. It was decided to raise awareness of the people in the community living in areas where stagnant water is present, creating breeding grounds for mosquitoes. The Disaster Committee is working with the Medical Centre to face this challenge the island is now facing.
The public is asked to assist to reduce the spread of mosquito breeding by cleaning up their yards and report of any abandoned open areas, cisterns, buildings or bodies of stagnant water that can become breeding grounds for the mosquitoes. Governor Berkel requested islandwide support.
Dr. Baboe stated that since June, the island had experienced an increase in symptoms, such as high fever, muscle aches and headaches, as well as a telltale rash. Samples taken in chikungunya tests were sent to the Netherlands via St. Maarten, as these tests cannot be done on Statia. 22 cases were positive, eight were negative. There were also confirmed cases of dengue. Both diseases are transmitted by mosquito bites. In severe cases, both diseases can lead to death although this is not common.
Governor Berkel quoted the statistics and said there were eight suspected cases of dengue in June, 24 cases in July and 74 cases in August, whilst for chikungunya there were three suspected cases in June, 15 in July and 59 in August.
Director of Public Health Jack-Rosenberg said that an action plan has been put in place to face this challenge. The only effective way of dealing with the issue is to eliminate the spread of the disease by all joining and working together in banishing mosquitoes. The Staff of the Health Department will be out checking yards along with the Prosecutor, advising home owners to clean their yards. Those who do not comply will be given a fine. Starting on September 2, between the hours of 6:00pm and 7:00pm and for the coming days the Public Health Department will be fogging areas where clusters of the diseases have been located. Baboe advised the public to leave their doors and windows open so the spray can enter the homes and get the mosquitoes out. People with respiratory problems are advised to take precautions as the fogging may cause symptomatic conditions. The fogging will start in Golden Rock, Bay Brow, Concordia, Lodi and the Town area. Members of the public are encouraged to tune in to the radio and TV for information pertaining to the situation. People wishing to obtain information may contact the Public Health Department.