Several government agencies, such as the Department of Public Health and Social Services and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, are working together to spread awareness and control the spread of dengue fever on the island.
After a press release from the Joint Information Center two days ago identified a man residing along Swamp Road as the second patient to have contracted dengue fever, Linda DeNorcey, the director of the Department of Public Health and Social Services, says that two more potential cases are being screened for the disease.
But late Thursday afternoon, DPHSS reported negative findings for the two additional suspected cases of the dengue virus. To date, there remain only two locally acquired cases.
During a press conference with government officials on Wednesday, DeNorcey said that there was no connection between the first two cases and that 18 homes along Swamp Road have been identified to be in the high-risk area.
She also said her agency is working with the Dededo mayor’s office to eliminate illegal dumping sites which can act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
While the initial assessment of the high-risk area in Mangilao, the location of the first dengue infection, identified 82 homes within the designated 200-meter radius, DeNorcey says that the number has since increased to 90 due to some of the residents having extended households.
Public Health established that the high-risk areas would consist of a 200-meter radius based on the flight distance of the mosquito, which ranges from 150 to 200 meters.
In addition, DPHSS Division of Environmental Health’s Tom Nadeau said teams dispatched by Public Health to capture and test mosquitoes have found their results to be negative for the disease.
To increase early detection rates of potential dengue cases, Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero said she has ordered DPHSS to also work and coordinate with the private sector.
“I want people to know that DPHSS is sending out trainers to send out clinicians to the private sector … the private clinics because we want them to catch these symptoms and test for it,” the governor said.
With regard to preventative methods such as a vaccine, Dr. Thane Hancock, an epidemiologist from the Centers for Disease Control, says that such a product called Dengvaxia, does exist but it is still being evaluated for whether or not it is a safe option.
“The WHO recommends that it should be used in places where there is a high level of endemic dengue or where there’s a lot of transmission of dengue because they find that if you haven’t had dengue and you get the vaccines, there could be issues. So that’s why the dengue vaccine is not available on Guam and would not be helpful for Guam,” the doctor said.
While applying mosquito repellent and wearing long-sleeved clothing is recommended to decrease the risk of infection, DeNorcey also encourages the public to remain active in preventing the spread of the disease.
“The key here is eliminating breeding grounds for mosquitoes. That is the message we’re trying to get out there. And if you feel sick, please see your provider. Providers, if your patient is ill and has all the symptoms of dengue, have them tested,” the governor said.