Second case of local dengue found; patient is from Dededo

Public Health's Linda DeNorcey and Bertha Taijeron give an update on the government's efforts to fight dengue.

By Gerry Partido and Louella Losinio

The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) has confirmed that a second person with locally acquired dengue infection has been identified, after being seen at the Guam Memorial Hospital emergency room.

The individual is an adult male who resides along Swamp Road in Dededo.

“Our Public Health response team has been prepared to respond to any additional cases as they present themselves. Our people should know that every expert and resource at our disposal is being used to address this issue aggressively and to keep our people safe,” Governor Lou Leon Guerrero said in a release. “Yesterday, I met with Dr. Takeshi Kasai, the World Health Organization’s Western Regional Director for the Western Pacific, who expressed confidence in our response plan and the team charged with its implementation.”

Along with the first dengue case confirmed on Sept. 11, 2019, these are the only two locally acquired cases that have been detected in Guam in the last 75 years. All previous cases were imported from off-island.

DPHSS said it remains prepared and anticipates the identification of other suspected and confirmed cases.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services, Office of the Governor, and Guam Homeland Security/Office of Civil Defense are working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other local and federal partners to minimize the spread of the dengue virus and to coordinate a community-wide effort to limit its scope.

The containment efforts include the immediate canvassing and notification of potentially affected areas, spraying, and ongoing surveillance as required by Public Health’s response plan.

According to DPHSS, the best preventive measure for all Guam residents is to eliminate mosquito breeding sites, which are primarily artificial containers that hold water where mosquitoes lay eggs.

DPHSS is adopting a two-pronged approach in its fight against dengue — activating both a medical and mosquito surveillance team as part of its concerted efforts to control the spread of the virus on Guam.

Following its first inter-agency meeting on Monday, Public Health Director Linda DeNorcey said that after wrapping up fumigation at the two schools in Ordot-Chalan Pago, the teams will continue spraying insecticide in the home identified within the 200-meter radius of the dengue infected person’s residence.

The mosquito surveillance teams are also gathering samples and testing them for the presence of the virus.

Chief Environmental Public Health Officer Tom Nadeau shares with PNC the surveillance and testing process conducted by his team.

“Our team is conducting surveillance and mosquito control. We capture mosquitoes and identify them. Then we test them to see if they carry the dengue virus. So far, from the tests that we have done, none of the mosquitoes that we have captured had tested positive for dengue virus,” Nadeau said.

He added: “The individual who tested positive for dengue had no travel outside the island. The individual resides in the village of Mangilao. So we heightened our surveillance and control measure in and around that neighborhood. And the individual did attend Agueda Johnston Middle School, which is why the school was included in the heightened surveillance and report, and the spraying of the pesticide.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Ann Pobutsky, the territorial epidemiologist, reported on the progress so far of the medical surveillance team, saying that while mosquito lab tests have turned out negative, it is still too early to tell if the local dengue has been contained. She said the medical team is tasked to do increased surveillance on any active or additional dengue fever cases.

“As we do the fieldwork and field surveillance in the area, we are also doing surveillance on anyone who is sick and with a dengue-like illness. Those people will be asked to be tested,” Pobutsky said.

She added: “We are anticipating … there is a possibility that there will be more cases.”

Public Health said it is working closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other partners to minimize the spread of the dengue virus.