Pest control and personal protection key to avoiding dengue fever

By Ruth M. Quiqley (USAKA/RTS)November 17, 2011

(Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

U.S. ARMY KWAJALEIN ATOLL, Marshall Islands - After an increase in cases of dengue fever found in the Marshall Islands, leaders and experts in the medical and environmental fields emphasized the mounting importance of controlling Kwajalein's mosquito population during a meeting at command headquarters here Nov. 10.

Although no cases have been found on Kwajalein, a case of dengue fever originating on Ebeye was reported. USAKA Health System Specialist Sheralyn Zeto stressed that dengue is avoidable if precautions are taken.

"There are no known cases of dengue on Kwajalein and the more vigilant people are -- use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants -- the less likely an outbreak will occur here," Zeto said.

Dr. James Morrow, chief medical officer at Kwajalein Hospital, said very young children are more susceptible, but anyone with a fever or other symptoms should call the hospital. Supplies are on hand to treat any possible cases, he said, and the Exchange has requested an additional air shipment of acetaminophen and repellents containing DEET.

On the environmental side, an entomologist from Army Public Health Command arrived on-island Wednesday and surveyed Kwajalein for mosquito havens Nov. 10. Maj. Peter Nunn was slated to come here in December but his visit was pushed forward in light of the recent outbreak on Majuro.

Nunn said he plans to work with KRS Pest Management to "increase surveillance on island, ID places that need further treatment and emphasize preventative measures." Pest Management has already increased its broad-based mosquito spraying to twice a week, up from roughly once a quarter.

"Standing water isn't just in the residential areas. People need to monitor work areas in addition to the residential areas. The [Centers for Disease Control] has a lot of info regarding dengue fever on its website, including methods of vector control," said USAKA Environmental Engineer Anthony Hoover.

USAKA has issued guidance to KRS that housing policies already in place are to be strictly enforced. Inspections of housing areas will be increased and residents violating policy will be notified.

"We are firmly behind KRS efforts in enforcing current housing policies regarding upkeep and maintenance. Therefore residents must understand that we expect full compliance in order to ensure the well being of the entire community, and will follow through with appropriate action as necessary," said Deputy to the Commander Joseph Moscone.

Host Nations Activities has already received requests for insecticide sprayers and other items and is working with the local government on Ebeye to support them.

"USAKA is ready to assist Ebeye with any requests for assistance related to dengue fever," Moscone said.

The government of the Marshall Islands originally reported the outbreak on Oct. 21 with 60 cases. This number has grown to 600 but no deaths have been reported.

Related Links:

U.S. Embassy in Majuro, Marshall Islands

Centers for Disease Control