Ministry of Health warns against Dengue Fever

Mr Alex Segbefia, Minister of Health

The Ministry of Health has warned of an outbreak of Dengue Fever in neighbouring Burkina Faso and, therefore, advised the public on preventive measures.

A Statement signed by Mr Alex Segbefia, the Minister of Health, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, explained that the disease is an acute fever caused by a virus through the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, which bites during the daytime.

'The Ministry of Health is entreating all citizens of Ghana to improve environmental conditions to prevent mosquito breeding and protect against mosquito bites to prevent Dengue fever,' the statement said.

It explained: 'In Burkina Faso, there were suspected cases of Dengue in August this year and as at November 12, a total of 1,061 probable Dengue Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) positive cases, out of which 1,266 suspected cases were reported with cumulative total of 15 deaths (CFR 1.2 per cent).'

'The World Health Organisation has, therefore, deployed a multidisciplinary team in the 12 districts of Ouagadougou affected by the outbreak to support the response.'

The Ministry, therefore, advised the public to be on the alert for the symptoms and report cases, even though there were no reported cases in the country.

It explained: 'Dengue occurs in two forms - Dengue Fever, which presents a febrile illness marked by sudden onset of high grade of fever, severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscles and joints.

'The other form, which is more severe, is the 'Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (DHF)', having in addition to the Dengue Fever, bleeding within three to five days of fever and sometimes the occurrence of shocks leading to death. This is most serious in children,''.

As preventive measures, the Ministry advised the public to avoid and protect themselves from the bites of mosquitoes, saying efforts should be intensified before and after the transmission season (during and after rainy season) and at the time of the epidemic.

The Ministry also recommended that the public should wear full sleeves clothes and long dresses to cover the limbs and use insecticide treated mosquito nets to protect babies, old people and others who may take a rest during the day.

The Ministry also recommended the use of mosquito repellent and coils as well as electric vapour mats during the daytime to control the mosquitoes.

The statement urged all health institutions and their staff to enhance surveillance on Dengue fever and Arbovirus fevers in general (using case definitions).

'Suspected cases of Dengue fever should be investigated and managed in accordance with guidelines and standard operative procedures,' it said.

'Health workers should adhere to regular Infection Prevention and Control measures to prevent and protect against possible nosocomial transmission.

'Blood sample from suspected case(s) should be taken and safely packaged and sent to Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research for laboratory investigations.

'All levels (National, Regions, Districts and Facilities) are requested to update their preparedness and response plans for Dengue and other Arboviruses in general, sensitise the respective staff and create public awareness.'

The Ministry said it had initiated the process for preparedness and response mechanisms such as; epidemiological and laboratory surveillance: risk communication-social mobilisation and health education, which was a major tool in public health.

It also mentioned other interventions as case management logistics, security and financial resources, a National Coordinating Committee, National Technical Coordinating Committee and EOC meetings on the issue.