Dengue cases declining in Guyana as efforts to secure vaccine intensify

Guyana has seen a notable decline in dengue cases, with intensified fogging efforts contributing to this positive trend.

Minister of Health, Dr. Frank Anthony, provided an update on the situation during an interview with the Department of Public Information on Tuesday.

Despite the country recording 2852 cases so far this year, recent weeks have shown a decrease in infections.

Dr. Anthony revealed that approximately 11,240 tests have been conducted this year, identifying 2852 positive cases. Of these, 265 individuals required hospitalization, with two reported deaths attributed to dengue.

Regions One, Two, Four, Six, Nine  and 10 have been the most affected, prompting heightened monitoring in these areas.

To combat the spread of the disease, the Ministry of Health has deployed vector control teams across the country, focusing on fogging breeding sites during peak mosquito activity times.

“This week we have started to see a decline in cases, so that’s a positive side and that’s because of the fogging activities that we have ongoing,” he noted.

Dr. Anthony emphasised the importance of community involvement in preventing dengue.

Measures such as eliminating stagnant water, using repellents, and taking precautions to avoid mosquito bites are crucial in controlling the spread of the disease.

Additionally, the distribution of larvicide, known as abate, aims to eliminate mosquito breeding sites.

“…we have also been distributing that to various communities’ various regions and encouraging people to put that into stagnant water, so if that is a breeding site then we can kill the mosquitoes,” he said.

In a bid to further protect vulnerable populations, the Ministry will soon distribute treated bed nets in region nine.

Meanwhile,  Dr Anthony urged individuals experiencing symptoms of dengue to seek medical attention promptly, especially during the critical phase.

Dr. Anthony explained that the first phase of dengue is the febrile phase, which typically lasts from 1 to 3 days, during which individuals experience fever. Following this phase, patients usually begin to recover.

However, in more severe cases, individuals may progress to a critical phase lasting from 24 to 48 hours. During this critical phase, plasma leakage can occur, leading to dehydration or bleeding, which may result in shock.

“You can see signs of that by changes in the skin, spots on the skin, rashes and so forth, and some people might be vomiting blood ,others might complain of abdominal pains and if somebody goes to the toilet you can see dark stool which is also a sign maybe that they have internal bleeding, people skin become very pale so you know they have some form of bleeding or blood loss,” he stated.

The minister noted that testing is widely accessible, with thousands of rapid testing kits distributed countrywide to facilitate easy detection of cases.

He urged individuals not to hesitate to get tested upon experiencing symptoms, emphasising the importance of early detection in combating the spread of dengue.

While acknowledging the high cost and limited availability of dengue vaccines, efforts are underway to procure them.

Dr. Anthony highlighted the effectiveness of a vaccine developed in Japan for certain subtypes of the disease, despite its high price tag.

“I think it’s costing 98-100 dollars per vile, so this is something that we have looked into, but even while its costly, it’s not readily available, we have been looking into possibilities of trying to procure, but it’s still a challenge,” the health minister said.

Minister Anthony reiterated that vigilance and community cooperation remain vital in the ongoing fight against dengue in Guyana.