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Nevis EOC Medical Officer Stresses The Difference Between Identifying COVID-19 and Dengue Fever Symptoms

By Kevon Browne

St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): During the October 5 Nevis Emergency Operations Center (EOC) briefing on Nevis Dr. Duanna Pemberton-Jeffers, Medical Officer in the accident and emergency department at the Alexandra Hospital explained the difference between COVID-19 and Dengue Fever.

“Dengue is caused by one of four related viruses… For this reason, a person can be infected with dengue multiple times in his or her lifetime. Coronavirus or COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus called SARS CoV2. It is unclear if antibodies created from a COVID-19 infection can provide protection against getting infected again.”

Pemberton-Jeffers went on to explain how the viruses are spread. Dengue viruses are spread to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes, mainly Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through the respiratory droplets produced when a person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

“The most common symptom of dengue is fever with any of the following aches and pains, eye pain typically behind the eyes, muscle pain, joint pain or bone pain, nausea and vomiting, and rash. Symptoms of dengue typically last two to seven days, contact the health care provider if you develop a fever or have symptoms of dengue.

Signs and symptoms of COVID-19: people with COVID-19 have had a wide range of symptoms reported, ranging from mild symptoms to severe illnesses. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. People with these symptoms may have COVID-19; fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body ache, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, [and] diarrhea. This list does not include all possible symptoms, and the CDC will continue to update the list as we learn more about COVID-19.”

The need to draw this delineation stems from the current outbreaks of Dengue fever in St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines declared on both islands in August 2020.

In an iWitness News article, it was reported that St. Vincent and the Grenadines registered their fifth death caused by complications from dengue fever.

The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment, Robert Browne said, on Thursday, the latest victim is a 40-year-old female.

The death follows that of a 4-year-old male, a 9-year-old male, an adult female, and an elderly male who died in September as a result of the illness.

Browne also shared that as of September 29, there were 514 laboratory-confirmed cases of dengue fever recorded in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

In a press release from the government of St. Lucia it was reported that the incidence of dengue has increased in the region of the Americas over the past four decades, from 1.5 million cumulative cases in the 1980s to 16.2 million cases between 2010 and 2019. In the region, the French Caribbean islands are currently experiencing dengue outbreaks with a total of over 17, 000 cases reported cumulatively. In August 2020, the Ministry of Health and Wellness of Saint Lucia declared an outbreak of Dengue Fever. To date, Saint Lucia has recorded a total of 503 confirmed dengue cases.

The need to draw this delineation is a necessary step in quelling what misinformation may present itself if the federation were to experience an outbreak anytime during the re-opening of borders come October 31.

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