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Three Dengue Cases Confirmed

The last major dengue outbreak in the Virgin Islands was a dozen years ago, meaning the territory is overdue, health officials said. (Photo courtesy Centers for Disease Control)

At least three cases of dengue fever have been reported in the territory recently, officials said, meaning the true number may be far higher.

Epidemiologist Lisa Ekpo confirmed three cases Thursday. One of the sickened people was a visitor who became ill after returning home to the mainland.

Health officials were not immediately able to say which islands the mosquito-born illness was contracted on, but had been warning for months about a likely outbreak. The last major dengue outbreak in the Virgin Islands was a dozen years ago, meaning the territory is overdue, health officials have said.

Ekpo declined to speculate on how many cases may be unreported, saying she could only speak to reported cases. But the Centers for Disease Control has said often only about 25 percent of people carrying the virus may become sick. Also, it was not clear how many people do become ill and don’t report to a hospital or a medical professional.

The most common symptom of dengue is fever and it can be accompanied by: nausea, vomiting, rash, aches and pains — especially pain behind the eyes, muscles, joint or bone pain. Symptoms of dengue typically last two to seven days and most people will recover after about a week. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites mostly at dawn and dusk.

About one in 20 people who get sick with dengue will develop severe dengue, according to the CDC. Infants, pregnant women and individuals who had dengue in the past are more likely to develop severe dengue. Severe dengue usually occurs 24 to 48 hours after a fever has passed. Symptoms include belly pain, tenderness, vomiting at least three times in 24 hours, bleeding from the nose or gums, vomiting blood or blood in the stool, and feeling tired, restless or irritable.

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