For the first time in 75 years, Guam has recorded its first locally acquired case of dengue fever.

According to Public Health, on Tuesday a physician reported the suspected case in a patient that had no travel history outside of Guam, by Wednesday it was confirmed the individual contracted it on Guam.

The locally acquired case of dengue fever is the same type of virus causing outbreaks in Yap, Palau, Marshall Islands, and the Philippines.

Public Health has now implemented a heightened response in preventing the local transmission which includes the activation of a Public Health Incident Command, Enhanced Surveillance for dengue fever, and the fumigation of areas at high risk for mosquito transmission. Additionally, all healthcare providers have been urged to be on alert for additional cases.

 

About dengue fever: 

The principal symptoms of dengue fever are high fever, severe headache, severe pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, rash, and mild bleeding usually around nose or gums. Generally, younger children and those with their first dengue infection have a milder illness than older children and adults.  Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF), the severe form of the disease, is characterized by a fever that lasts from 2 to 7 days, which can be followed by persistent vomiting, severe abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing.  In addition, patients with DHF tend to bruise easily or other skin hemorrhages and possibly even internal bleeding. There is no vaccine for preventing dengue fever.

If you feel sick:

  • Talk to your doctor or nurse if you feel seriously ill, especially if you have a fever with other symptoms such as headache and joint pain, or have traveled to a country with locally occurring dengue fever or other mosquito-borne diseases.
  • Consult with you doctor about the use of acetaminophen to treat fever and pain.
  • Get lots of rest, and drink plenty of liquids.
  • Avoid spreading the disease by preventing more mosquito bites.

MOSQUITO PREVENTION MEASURES

The Department of Public Health and Social Services asks residents to do their part to reduce the mosquito population with some simple steps:

  • Properly cover or dispose all containers that collect rainwater or water, such as flower pots, garbage cans, recycling containers, wheelbarrows, aluminum cans, boat tarps, old tires, and buckets.
  • Flush birdbaths and wading pools weekly.
  • Flush ornamental bromeliads with water, or treat with BTI, a biological larvicide available at most home stores.  
  • Clean roof gutters, which can become clogged and hold water. 
  • Change the water in outdoor pet dishes regularly. 
  • Keep pools and spas chlorinated and filtered.
  • Stock ornamental ponds with mosquito-eating fish.
  • Cover rain barrels with screening.
  • Check for standing water under houses, near plumbing drains, under air conditioner drip areas, around septic tanks, and water pumps. 
  • Take steps to eliminate standing water, improve drainage, and prevent future puddling. 

 

It’s important for residents to remember the four D’s of mosquito prevention:

  1. Drain:  Empty out water containers and scrub the sides to remove mosquito eggs at least once every 5 days.
  2. Dress:  Wear long sleeves, long pants, and light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  3. Defend:  Properly apply an approved mosquito repellent such as DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or Oil of Lemon-Eucalyptus.
  4. Dusk and Dawn:  Avoid activity during those times when mosquitoes are most active.