Dengue fever kills. That’s the message from the Chief Executive Officer of the Ministry of Health, Leausa Dr. Take Naseri, after announcing the outbreak of dengue fever type two in the country.
Speaking during a press conference, Leausa has asked the public not to panic but take immediate action to eliminate mosquito-breeding places.
“We have been monitoring this but it has now reached an outbreak level,” he said. “Despite numbers not being high, we still need to inform the public to be aware and we need to inform everyone who can help prevent the disease to help."
“This is a virus transmitted by mosquitos and it’s not new in Samoa, but with these viruses there are often outbreaks on and off."
“We are also worried that this outbreak is a dengue type 2 strain viruses. It’s a slightly different presentation."
“Dengue has four types and if a certain type does not appear for a long and then when it finally does arise, there will be severe cases."
“The general symptoms are high fever, headache, severe pain, particularly the joint pains and the worse complication is bleeding and usually the bleeding kills people."
“It can be internal bleeding; or bleeding from your gums, you can be easily bruised, if there is bleeding into the lungs and the brain and it’s quite fatal and that is why we are concerned."
“That is why it’s important to heed the prevention messages."
“Source reduction still maintains as the main prevention, where we need to control the source, this is where the mosquitos breed and if we can control that then there will be no mosquitoes,” said Leausa.
According to the C.E.O, most mosquitos die after a bite because they cannot fly far as they’re filled with blood.
“And that is why we need to control the breeding sites. It comes down to you to clean your around your house and look for anything that can store water that is where the mosquitos will breed thousands of new adult mosquitos."
“We need to cut the cycle,” he said.
Leausa emphasized the main method to control or prevent the transmission of dengue virus is to combat vector mosquitoes by preventing mosquitoes from accessing egg-laying habitats by environmental management and modification.
He calls for proper disposal of solid waste, cleaning of domestic water storage containers and applying of appropriate insecticides to water storage outdoor containers.
He also noted the need of using personal household protection such as sleeping in mosquito nets, long-sleeved clothes, insecticide-treated materials, coils and vaporizers and also spraying during outbreaks as one of the emergency vector-control measures.
He said there were indoor mosquitos that hid in dark places.
“Samoa usually responds well to this."
“When we had the chikungunya, the ZIKA, we were quite amazed with the response and we were able to control the virus within months."
“So the main reason we are releasing this information is not to panic our people, but to advise and inform our people there is a dengue outbreak around,” said the C.E.O.
He made it clear there is no casualty.
“However, we are seeing a lot of children being brought into the hospital."
“Children are prone to mosquitos because they play outside and we need to clean up to decrease the mosquitos count number.”
Asked on an estimate number of dengue cases, Leasua did not specify but noted the increase was seen in the past three weeks.
“And that has given us an idea of what is going on."
“We have in place what is called a syndromic surveillance and it’s done weekly, we pick up a lot of syndromes and combinations of different symptoms and signs."
“So when we have fever patients we test them, and the results tell us what we need to do.”
He said most of the epidemics; the children and the elderly were prone to it.
“Most of the elderlies are bedridden and are staying home and that is why they are quite at risk."
“For the children, they are prone due their activeness, they are usually outside playing.”
He said they had already issued alerts to the schools regarding the preventative measures.
“Most of the time we respond to the virus is when the epidemic reaches a peak. But this time around we have to respond early before it rises.
“From what we know they are all over the place.”
Regarding the medical side of things, Leausa said it could be treated at home.
“But you should still seek medical check-up especially for the children because they are quite unpredictable."
He has also called on the public to monitor the symptoms of dengue fever.
“If you’re not sure please bring your child to the hospital."
“If you feel that the sickness is different than when you were sick before then you should still come to the hospital."
“People have different reactions to the virus; some can have the mild symptoms of pain."
“They need to drink a lot of fluids, take some antipyretic and take Panadol for fever."
“We discourage people from taking aspirin, ibuprofen, Motrin because these medications can cause internal bleeding."
“So Panadol is safe and also cool sponging can help along with tea leaves, it really helps controlling the temperature fever.”