- An outbreak of a Dengue fever epidemic has been confirmed by health authorities in Cape Verde and the World Health Organisation (WHO). This is the first reported epidemic of Dengue fever in the tourist destination Cape Verde.
As of the end of October, the Cape Verdean Ministry of Health had reported 3,367 suspected cases of viral diseases of unknown source on four islands: Brava, Fogo, Maio, and Santiago.
The first samples have now been laboratory tested. They were confirmed as the mosquito-borne dengue virus by the Institute Pasteur in Dakar (Senegal).
No cases of Dengue fever or unidentified suspicious viral infections have so far been registered on the island of Sal, Cape Verde's major tourist destination.
"This is the first reported epidemic of Dengue fever in Cape Verde," the WHO reports from Dakar.
The government has established a ministerial committee of spread control lead by the Prime Minister including all ministries involved in containing the outbreak. The measures taken include clinical management, mosquito control and social mobilisation.
A rapid surveillance and reporting system through SMS messaging systems has been established by the Cape Verde Ministry of Health and the public IT agency. Local health workers and the public are to report suspicious cases using the mobile phones.
On 26 October a team from the WHO Regional Office for Africa arrived the archipelago to support Cape Verde in investigating the outbreak. The team is providing laboratory, entomology and epidemiology support and set up laboratory diagnostics at the Hospital Agostinho Neto.
Dengue fever is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease of humans. In recent years it has become a major public health concern in the tropics. The geographical spread of both the mosquito and the virus has led to the global resurgence of epidemic dengue fever in the past 25 years, according to WHO.
Mosquitoes transmitting Dengue fever have not been found on the Atlantic archipelago of Cape Verde before, and were probably brought to the islands by air traffic.
Cape Verdean authorities are still optimistic they may root out the epidemic before it finds foothold on the archipelago. As a first step, the sectors infected by dengue-bearing mosquitoes must be identified, then attempts will be made to exterminate the viral population.
As a tourist destination, Cape Verde is dependent on few incidents of tropical diseases that demand vaccination. A long-term spread of Dengue fever on the archipelago would be seen as a major set-back for public health and for the country's key tourism industry.
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