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Dengue giving Guadeloupe and Martinique a solid whooping

Posted Nov 06 2010 12:00am

first published on September 22 2010; update 2 on November 06 2010

The French Departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique each had more than 7,000 new cases of Dengue over the first two weeks of August bringing the total to over 50,000 recorded cases for the year up to that point. The mosquito-borne disease was also responsible for taking 18 lives in the Departments since February 2010, 13 on Martinique, 5 on Guadeloupe.  No cases of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever has been reported on Guadeloupe.

The fifth Dengue victim from Guadeloupe was a 16 year-old who had sickle cell anemia.

Dengue patients who also suffer from sickle cell anemia (an inherited blood disease) and Diabetes require extra special care if they are to have any chance of recovery. ( )

Breaking it down some more, official government figures showed that in Guadeloupe, 4,100 persons were diagnosed with Dengue within the first seven days of August and 3,700 in the second week. That represented a decline of 400 cases from one week to the next.

It was the other way around in Martinique where 7,560 cases were detected during the same time frame. That amounted to an increase of 760 cases (3,400 and 4,160 new cases respectively ) in two consecutive weeks beginning August 01, 2010.

In response to this record-making outbreak, Guadeloupe and Martinique deployed soldiers from France on the field from Monday, August 23 2010 to drain and destroy mosquito breeding places and thereby to contain the spread of the disease , which caused more than 50,000 persons (33,000 in Guadeloupe and 25,600 in Martinique) to come down with it over the first eight months of 2010.

The military began its work in the south of Martinique, targeting schools and immediate surroundings to make these critical areas mosquito-free zones – in advance of the beginning of the school year.

Interesting story: France’s Minister of Health Roselyne Bachelot accompanied the troops to Martinique where she was supposed to have been welcomed by the Governor.  But guess what?  The Gov was himself stricken with the Dengue virus and was in hospital at the time of the Minister’s arrival. (Source: )

As a precursor to these latest developments, go back four months to May when Guadeloupe health officials were reporting 30 to 40 cases of Dengue every week. No sooner did these figures come out, the weekly cases jumped to 40/60. Then on Monday, June 07, a 10-year-old Martinique girl died from complications of Dengue Fever.

Less than a week later, news broke in Martinique that there was an another death due to Dengue. That story placed the number of cases of Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) on the island at 4. 21 other cases were classified as severe at that time. At mid-June, the list of Confirmed Dengue Cases was up to about 500. (Source: Tropical Medical Bureau / pr oMed )

Hardly past the one-month mark after the Dengue deaths of June 2010, the number of “Clinically Suggestive” cases of Dengue had multiplied to an unfathomable 1,900 patients. That was just the beginning for in the two-week period starting in mid-July, that number catapulted to 2,600 with an increasingly high percentage of hospitalizations – 172 in July compared with 87 in June.

The Institut de Veille Sanitaire (InVS), which reported on these figures in its Friday, August 06 epidemiological update, also revealed that a mere 50-odd patients had been hospitalized for “Biologically Confirmed” Dengue in the first five months of the year, prior to the upsurge in June.

In the meantime, Martinique had racked up a whopping 18,100 cases between the last week of February to the first week of August, in effect exceeding the peak of the 2001 Dengue epidemic on that French Department. In the three months leading up to this landmark, 9 Dengue deaths had been registered in Martinique. (Sources: ¹, ²)

Back in Guadeloupe, the Dengue situation was getting worse still. Over a roughly similar span of time as obtained in Martinique, that is July 21 to August 03, 2,900 cases “Clinically Suggestive” of Dengue had been logged for a cumulative total of 25,200 from the beginning of the year. 243 Confirmed Cases were hospitalized. Of that number, 94 were DHF Cases. With that, the 2007 record for Dengue infections set during the 2007 Guadeloupe epidemic was broken. (Source: )

One month later, the Dengue profile of the French islands had improved somewhat.  For six consecutive weeks, from mid-August to the fourth week of September, the CIRE (Interregional Epidemiology Unit) of Guadeloupe noticed a steady downward trending of doctor visits by persons showing the classic signs and symptoms of Dengue.  For instance, there was a 23% drop in physician consultations from 1,483 the third week of September to 1,127 in the fourth.

Iin Martinique, the epidemic was beginning to stabilize, especially in the central districts.  However, the incidence of Dengue on the southern and northern sides of the island remained as high as ever.

Overall, 39 patients were referred by their physicians in week 4 of September.  8 of them were hospitalized taking the total for the year to 583 patients committed to hospital care out 39,700 clinically suggestive of Dengue.  16 people have already died. (Source: )

The Dengue types circulating in Martinique up to that point were Dengue 1, 2 and 4. Guadeloupe was seeing only Dengue 1.

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