A regional health care specialist is warning of the onset of a new and more serious strain of dengue fever.
“We can predict with some degree of certainty that next year, more probably 2018, the region will have a Dengue Type Three epidemic,” revealed Dr James Hospedales, executive director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency.
Addressing a regional panel discussion on responding to hazards and matters of security at the Radisson Aquatica Resort in Barbados, he noted that the mosquito-borne illness has been increasing in frequency and severity over the past 30 years or so.
Dr Hospedales also pointed out that the Caribbean has been going through an abnormal spell with regards to viral infections.
“In the last few years, we witnessed something unprecedented, almost. We’ve had a Chikungunya epidemic in 2014 . . . We’ve had the threat of Ebola. This year we’re facing the Zika epidemic, the consequences of which are still playing out,” he added.
However, the health specialist said Caribbean people must take some of the blame for the worrying prevalence of the disease transmitting Aedes aegypti mosquito.
“The problem isn’t Chikungunya, Zika, or dengue, the problem is our comfort with the mosquito Aedes aegypti, and multiplication of sites in which it can breed,” Dr Hospedales said of the vector, which breeds quickly in stagnant water.
“The fact that you have a vector that can so effectively transmit disease right across the population, is a health security threat, a tourism threat, an economic threat,” he told the gathering.
Symptoms of dengue include severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands or rash.