Dengue fever adds to woes of flood-affected Region Nine

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By Vishani Ragobeer

The flood-affected Region Nine (Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo) has now recorded a number of cases of dengue fever and the regional authorities are hoping to control the spread of this by engaging in continuous fogging exercises.

Over the past two weeks, the regional authorities alongside the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), have been trying to support residents of the region as the wet season continues.

Despite those efforts, the flooding has exacerbated existing challenges of the region- including the spread of vector-borne disease.

“We have an outbreak of dengue (fever) in the region at the moment,” Regional Chairman, Brian Allicock, told the News Room on Friday.

The chairman related that some of his staff at the regional office were infected with the dengue virus. Additionally, according to reports he received, people across the region have been infected too.

“What we are doing is that we have to recommence fogging so that we can control this,” the Chairman said.

Dengue, according to the WHO, is a mosquito-borne viral disease caused by the dengue virus. This virus is a vector-borne disease that is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti.

Importantly, the WHO also notes that dengue causes a wide spectrum of disease, ranging from subclinical diseases (where people may not know they are infected) to severe flu-like symptoms and other severe complications which may result in death if not managed properly.

A aerial view of the flooding in Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) (Photo: DPI/ May 23, 2021)

While the regional authorities aim to commence fogging to exterminate the mosquito population, Allicock said that this exercise may be slightly challenging due to ongoing rainfall. As such, the exercise has to be well-planned.

It is important to note that mosquitoes lay their eggs in water-filled containers and spaces. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the eggs hatch when submerged in water. And, a mosquito’s life-cycle from an egg to larvae, pupae and finally, to an adult mosquito, takes about eight days.

Cognisant of this, Allicock noted that the regional authorities would, perhaps, have to engage in the fogging exercise each month.

“Because of the rain and so at the moment, even if you fog, the rain would just wash it away,” the regional chairman said. Nevertheless, he related that efforts are also being made to educate people on how to protect themselves against the disease.

Earlier this month, Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony handed over 17,300 insecticide-treated mosquito nets to Region Nine. These nets will be able to kill any mosquitos that land on them and are part of nationwide efforts to curtail the spread and effects of malaria.

Then, Dr Anthony also said malaria, another vector-borne disease, remains a major challenge in Region Nine. In 2020, the region recorded 954 positive cases and 739 cases the previous year. Between January and April 2021, some 349 cases have already been recorded.

COVID-19 INCREASE

As he related before, Allicock lamented that COVID-19 remains a significant challenge for this region. Earlier this week, he said that 72 people were infected in the village of Fairview and 29 cases were recorded in Apoteri.

Addressing the significant spike in Fairview, the chairman explained that this village is located on the access road to Lethem from Georgetown and as such, it is the first village commuters come into contact with.

Previously, he explained that since residents have been providing help to each other as they navigate the flooding, there has been an increased risk of person-to-person contact and the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

As the region navigates the challenges it is exposed to, Allicock highlighted that relief supplies are being provided to affected residents. Currently, the water is receding.

The increase in floodwaters, Allicock explained previously, has been caused by an increase in water flowing from the Rio Negro and Bracho rivers in Brazil into the Takutu River that borders Region Nine and Brazi. This increase in water has been exacerbated by heavy rainfall and has resulted in flooding in a number of communities.

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