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Khan: Dengue cases down

Saturday, September 17 2011

Cases of dengue in Trinidad and Tobago have been reduced significantly in the last month, according to Minister of Health, Dr Fuad Khan.

Khan made the statement yesterday in response to questions by reporters following a news conference at the Ministry of Health’s Park Street, Port-of-Spain office.

The minister said that following last month’s symposium with local health bodies, members of the public have showed a keener interest in keeping their environment clean.

“In the past month we have been able to keep the disease under control as people are taking a greater effort in cleaning their surroundings,” Khan said.

The minister however encouraged the public to continue their clean-up actions as a means of fighting against dengue.

In addition to spraying and encouraging the cleaning up of the environment, Khan reiterated his ministry’s proposal to introduce genetically modified male mosquitoes to reduce the egg-laying population.

Earlier, Khan said this process was successfully being used in countries abroad to fight against dengue fever.

Dengue affects up to 100 million people worldwide. There have been 1,639 suspected cases of dengue fever in Trinidad for the year thus far.

Khan said his ministry will investigate the feasibility of using genetically modified mosquitoes to combat dengue.

However, the minister could not give a time frame for when the new technology was expected to be introduced in the country. The technology was developed by British biotechnology company Oxitec. The genetically modified mosquito carries an artificial fragment of DNA designed to cause wild females with whom they mate to produce offspring that die at the pupa stage.

This significantly reduces the spread of dengue and its native population below the numbers required to sustain dengue fever, transmitted through the bites of females. So far, there is no vaccine or effective drug regimen to prevent, or to treat dengue fever.

Meanwhile, Khan said he was still awaiting a report on the death of eight-year-old Asia Archibald to confirm whether she died from dengue fever, or not.

“I am yet to receive a full report, as there have been some issues which I cannot divulge. Once all parties are available the North Central Regional Health will compile the report,” Khan said.

Archibald, of Devenish Street, Arima died in August from suspected dengue fever, hours after being discharged from the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex in Mt Hope.

Archibald was taken to the medical complex after seeking treatment at the Arima Health Facility for high fever and vomiting.

She was given a check-up and some rehydrating salts and told to wait. At about 3 am, Archibald was sent home. Later that morning, Archibald was gravely ill and the family rushed her to the Arima Health Facility again, where she died.

Archibald’s mother, Anesha believes the doctor who released her daughter did not use sound judgement in deciding to release her.

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