Dengue cases plummet as vaccine nears

Rubbish removal has helped eliminate mosquito-breeding sites. File photo: Sipse
Rubbish removal has helped eliminate mosquito-breeding sites. File photo: Sipse
Rubbish removal has helped eliminate mosquito-breeding sites. File photo: Sipse

Dengue cases in Yucatán so far this year are in free fall. Through Aug. 29, recorded cases were down 82 percent compared to last year. In 2015 at this time, there were 633 infections under treatment. This year, the state has recorded 111 cases. 

This decline is largely due to citizen participation, state Secretary of Health Jorge Mendoza Mézquita told Sipse News.

“We had excellent response from society,” the official said. Residents have been asked to monitor their properties for water that might be collecting in empty flower pots or in buckets or pieces of debris left outside.

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The Yucatan Gambusia is abundant in Ría Lagartos estuary. Photo: backyardnature.net
The Yucatan Gambusia is abundant in Ría Lagartos estuary. Photo: backyardnature.net

In addition, the Ministry of Health has implemented other measures: Aside from spraying insecticide, they have deployed the Gambusia yucatana — a mosquitofish endemic to the Yucatán Peninsula, Belize and part of Guatemala. Ponds in public parks have been stocked with this low-key, minnow-like fish.

Mosquitofish got their name for the large amount of mosquito larvae they consume relative to their body size. In the U.S., many mosquito-control agencies distribute Gambusia at no charge to residents who have manmade fish ponds and pools, as part of their abatement programs.

The fish is abundant in natural habitats such as the Ria Lagartos estuary and tolerates the peninsula’s high temperatures in summer and survive in low-oxygen water.

Symptoms of dengue

Of the total number of dengue cases recorded this year, 69 are non-severe dengue and 42 are severe. Non-severe dengue — formerly called classic dengue — is characterized by fever greater than 40C/104F, severe headache, pain behind the eyeballs, muscle and joint aches and sometimes nausea, vomiting and rashes.

Symptoms occur after an incubation period of four to 10 days after the bite of an infected mosquito and usually last two to seven days.

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The severe dengue (formerly called dengue hemorrhagic fever) starts with symptoms similar to non-severe dengue symptoms. However, after several days the infected person becomes irritable, restless and sweaty.

These symptoms are followed by small blood spots on the skin and larger patches of blood under the skin. Minor injuries can cause bleeding.

According to the WHO, dengue is now the world’s fastest-growing mosquito-borne disease.

Dengvaxia was developed by a French pharmaceutical company and has been licensed for use in Mexico.
Dengvaxia was developed by a French pharmaceutical company and has been licensed for use in Mexico.

For more than 20 years, French researchers have been developing a vaccine that is ready for the market. The vaccine, Dengvaxia, will be distributed from offices in Mérida to the nation’s hardest-hit localities in the coming weeks.

A company in Singapore is conducting trials for a rapid-response dengue home test kit, but for now, it is recommended that anyone who suspects infection head immediately to a clinic or hospital.

Sources: Sipse, Wikipedia, backyardnature.net

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