Enhanced Public Health Surveillance and Testing Confirms Travel-Related Dengue Infection; Individual not Infectious

For Immediate Release

May 25, 2016; 8:00 PM

DPHSS Release No. 2016-044


The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS), in collaboration with key partners, has been preparing to ensure a healthy 12th Festival of Pacific Arts (Festpac) for Guam. 

This preparation included an emphasis on identifying and responding to infectious disease threats. Action was taken by the Division of Environmental Health (DEH) in advance of Festpac to reduce the threat of Zika and other mosquito-related illnesses such as Dengue.  To prevent these diseases from being established on Guam, DEH collaborated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct insecticide application at Festpac lodging and venue sites.

DPHSS also worked with regional health agencies including the CDC and the Pacific Community (SPC), to install enhanced disease surveillance and rapid laboratory testing.  This included establishing syndromic surveillance at 7 health centers and event-based surveillance at all lodging sites.  In time for Festpac, DPHSS’s Public Health Laboratory also established enhanced testing for Zika, chikungunya, dengue, avian influenza, and TB.

Today, May 25, DPHSS’s enhanced disease surveillance and laboratory testing confirmed a travel-related case of dengue fever.  The individual was brought to the Guam Memorial Hospital on Monday; was treated for a prolonged fever and released but was being closely monitored as a protective measure. 

This is not the first travel-related dengue case identified on Guam; in the past 10 years there have been 22 travel-related cases of dengue identified on Guam.  There has been no local spread or outbreaks of dengue identified on Guam over the past 10 years.

DPHSS is responding to this confirmed case through both environmental health and public health interventions.  These interventions include continued vector assessments and targeted reduction activities, exposure tracing, case finding and enhanced monitoring for suspect cases.  The patient has been isolated from mosquito exposure.     

The public can protect themselves from dengue and other diseases spread by mosquitoes by avoiding mosquito bites by using repellent with DEET or picaridin, wearing long clothing, and staying in screened or air conditioned areas.

The mosquitoes that spreads dengue are day time biters and do not fly very far, thus cleaning up items that catch standing water such as tires, pet dishes, and flowerpots can help stop the spread of mosquito related diseases.

Dengue is not spread person-to-person.  It is only spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.  Symptoms of dengue include fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, joint pain, muscle and bone pain, and/or rash.  Occasionally, dengue can be associated with mild bleeding (e.g., nose or gums bleed, easy bruising).

There is no specific medication for the treatment of a dengue infection. Don’t take aspirin or other NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve as it may increase the risk of serious bleeding.  Some cases of dengue can be serious, if you have symptoms of dengue please see you doctor as soon as possible.                                                  

Our enhanced surveillance and response throughout the festival will continue.  Public Health has a booth at the Paseo stadium where the public and participants may apply insect repellent to protect themselves from mosquitoes.  There is a chance that additional cases of infectious diseases may be identified.  We will continue to do our best to keep our community safe during this special event.

For more information on dengue, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/dengue/.

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