GVB assures tourism stakeholders

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During the forum, members of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association filled the Micronesia Ballroom of the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa, ready to hear updates and gather information about dengue. (Photo by Amanda Dedicatoria)

To make sure that everyone is properly informed of dengue fever, the Guam Visitors Bureau held a briefing for hospitality industry members earlier today.

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Government of Guam officials assured island residents that the dengue fever cases are under control and that their extensive community outreach has benefited their surveillance efforts in identifying and testing suspected cases of the virus.

According to Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero, during a presentation organized by the Guam Visitors Bureau, it’s been a week since the last confirmed locally acquired case of dengue fever. She added that the number of cases is still at seven.

During the forum, members of the Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association filled the Micronesia Ballroom of the Hilton Guam Resort and Spa, ready to hear updates and gather information about dengue. The panel of experts included representatives of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the Department of Public Health and Social Services, Guam Customs and Quarantine, as well as Guam Homeland Security.

According to Pilar Laguana, GVB President and CEO, the island has been experiencing record-breaking visitor arrivals and stressed that the tourism industry is fragile, adding that the event was organized in order to properly inform its attendants of the disease.

“We are also monitoring our international media to include our social media…a vast channel, too. We want to keep an eye on that so we can pick up any indicators…And so far, we’ve only seen a few mentions and we’ve had some inquiries,” Laguana said.

Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Susan Kaneshiro says that the island’s cases were identified through regular reports from the island’s healthcare providers.

Out of 49 suspected cases, 11- both imported and locally acquired – are confirmed and involve patients ranging from 11 months to 68 years old. She says that 6 suspected cases are currently pending.

According to Dr. Thane Hancock, an epidemiologist from the U.S. CDC, the key to eliminating dengue is to limit exposure to mosquitoes as well as eradicate mosquito breeding sites.

“So, the cycle of dengue infection is a sick human that’s bit by a mosquito that then is infected and then bites another human and then that human, while sick, might get bit by mosquitoes and then spreads on that way. So you can see that if we can break this chain of the mosquito bites, we can stop transmission of dengue,” the doctor said.

As for Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, she encourages island residents to stay informed, use insect repellents, and to contact their health provider if they do experience the symptoms of dengue fever.

“Every day that we do not have a confirmed case is a good day. So thank you and I want you to go out there and fight the bite,” the governor said.

If you experience symptoms such as high fever, pain behind the eyes, or severe body pain, please contact your local health provider for assessment.

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