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Case of Hemorrhagic Dengue Confirmed in Territory

While reports of hemorrhagic dengue in the territory began to surface earlier this month following the sudden death of a female St. John resident, at least one additional case has now been confirmed.
This severe and possibly fatal strain of the dengue virus was hinted at Thursday in an email circulated around St. Thomas and St. John by a local health care provider who preferred to remain anonymous.
The email advised residents to take precautions by covering up with bug spray and eliminating possible breeding areas and to seek medical help if experiencing fever, headache, rash or muscle pain.
St. Thomas neurologist Dr. David D. Weisher said in a phone interview that he currently has one patient under his care at Schneider Regional Medical Center who has hemorrhagic dengue “for sure” and another patient that is a probable case.
The V.I. Department of Health announced its first confirmed case of dengue back in June and since then, according to spokesperson Eunice Bedminster, they have stepped up their education campaign “to remind residents what they can do to prevent putting themselves at risk for dengue.”
Bedminster stated that although the department has received reports about potential deaths, they “have no information to date,” and health care providers are urged to report suspected cases seen in their offices in order to get a more accurate read on the severity of cases.
“Dengue is a reportable disease by law,” said Bedminster, “and so health care providers must abide. We implore them to get the information to us so we can alert the public.”
Weisher addressed the signs health care providers should be looking for. “The main thing to look for from a clinical standpoint,” he said, “is a really high fever combined with a low white blood-cell count or any kind of bleeding and a decreasing platelet count.”
Bedminster encourages residents who are experiencing symptoms of dengue fever to remind their health care provider “to alert the Health Department by completing the infectious disease reporting form.”
As reported in the Source in early June, dengue fever is caused by a virus transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito; symptoms include headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.
More complicated cases can result in dengue hemorrhagic fever, characterized by a high temperature, bleeding, and circulatory failure, which in rare instances may result in death.
On Friday, Health department officials will have an update on the number of cases confirmed in the territory, according to Bedminster.
Local health care providers — including all medical agencies, clinics and private physicians territory-wide — are required to report any additional cases of dengue fever to 773-1311, ext. 3241.
To report large pools of stagnant water, residents can also contact the Environmental Health Division on St. Croix at 773-1311, ext. 3109 and on St. Thomas-St. John at 774-9000, ext. 4641 or dial 715-5111.

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