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Dengue outbreak? Some doctors say yes

By FELICIA RAMPERSAD Sunday, August 17 2008

DOCTORS AT the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) have confirmed that there is a dengue outbreak in Trinidad, refuting Health Minister, Jerry Narace’s assurance that there is no outbreak.

Defining an outbreak as “two or more persons diagnosed with a particular disease from the same house or village,” medical authorities noted that two linked cases of an infectious disease are usually sufficient to constitute an outbreak.

In terms of the above definition, the medical authorities say it is evident that the country is experiencing a dengue outbreak as there are confirmed cases of the disease in Freeport, Sangre Grande and Princes Town. However, the situation has not yet reached to an epidemic, which is when a region in a country or a group of countries is affected.

But Health Minister, Jerry Narace, recently declared the Ministry’s intention to launch a nationwide campaign to curb the spread of disease by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.

Meanwhile, the doctors lashed out at the media , claiming that their reports are causing unnecessary anxiety. “This is a usual situation for us every year and the population is becoming scared. Everybody who now thinks they have a fever is rushing to the hospital and that is why there are no beds. Ten to 15 sick persons are now left without a bed. And the media is adding to it,” one said.

But at SFGH, the situation remained the same. Andy Sooklal, 24, was discharged on Friday although still experiencing some symptoms, after being warded for almost a week. Newsday learnt that Sooklal’s eight-month-old daughter is currently warded at the SFGH and being treated for dengue.

A relative said that doctors told Sooklal that he was not supposed to be discharged as yet. He said, “They said that dengue does not have a cure and that all they have to take are antibiotics. What kind of treatment are people getting in the hospital?” The relative added that he was concerned for the baby, since eight-year-old Sasha Bickram from Freeport had reportedly died of dengue fever.

The Congress of the People (COP) agreed with the view that there is an outbreak in Trinidad and Tobago and in a release, stated that Narace should tender his resignation for “falsely misleading the public of Trinidad and Tobago on what is obviously an outbreak of dengue and for his lack of proper management of his Ministry.”

The release continued that it is disturbing that hospitals cannot get back dengue test results earlier than two weeks from the Trinidad Public Laboratory, while patients can get it done within one hour at a private laboratory. The release stated: “The party believes this reflects the poor allocation of resources and management starting from the top of the Ministry of Health with unfortunate repercussions to the unsuspecting public of Trinidad and Tobago.”

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