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With Dengue on Cayman’s doorstep, MRCU and Public Health stand prepared

With Dengue activity on the rise in the region, mosquito-borne illness is just a one hour flight away.

And while there’s no evidence or reports thus far of dengue on our shores, Cayman’s first line of defense against mosquito-borne disease is standing by and ready to respond.

The MRCU and Public Health are confident they can control a potential outbreak of dengue, chikungunya, or Zika on our shores.

The two agencies work in tandem. On the public health side, that means amplifying surveillance efforts for early detection of the disease and symptom awareness. For the MRCU, that means coordinating a vector control response in the event of suspected cases.

With recent outbreaks reported in Cuba and Jamaica, an imported case of dengue is just a one hour flight away.

“We’ve had a situation ongoing in Cuba since mid-summer or so, more recently Jamaica is seeing a huge increase in cases of dengue, they are approaching 1000 cases at this point,” said MRCU Director Dr. Jim McNelly.

Dr. McNelly said in light of this regional proximity, the MRCU and Public Health are standing together as twin sentries against a possible outbreak of mosquito-borne disease.

“We have been in the past, been able to control any outbreak of these conditions in the Cayman Islands, I am confident that we will be able to control it again,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Samuel Williams.

She said Public Health’s first line of defense is surveillance, testing patients exhibiting signs or symptoms of Zika, dengue, or chikungunya.

“Especially the high fever and severe headache and the pain behind the eyes and the joint pain are symptoms and signs suggestive of dengue,” noted Dr. Williams.

When a suspected case is detected, the MRCU takes prescriptive action against the primary vector: the Aedes Aegypti, mosquito.

“It’s old-school quite honestly,” said Dr. McNelly. “We receive a fax from the public health folks, it will have a case number, it will have the address of the individual, and that is where we roll the trucks, we will DPO’s [disease prevention officers] to respond to the situation.”

These responses include the use of thermal foggers and barrier treatments. While Public Health and the MRCU both conduct disease prevention activity year round, with dengue on our doorstep, both agencies are increasing vigilance.

“Travel being what it is, the potential for imported disease, we are working closely with the Public Health folks to keep an eye on the situation,” said Dr. McNelly.

Public Health told Cayman 27 signs and symptoms of dengue include severe frontal headache, joint pain, pain behind the eyes, muscle or bone pain, a rash (sometimes), nausea or vomiting or signs of bleeding.

Residents and visitors experiencing dengue symptoms after travel to a location with established transmission should see a doctor and report their travel history.

The MRCU is urging the public to assist in the fight against the Aedes Aegypti by eliminating breeding sites, by dumping out any containers around homes that may hold standing water.


About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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