An official website of the United States government

Dengue Fever Outbreak Declared in Jamaica
Health Alert: Dengue Fever Outbreak Declared in Jamaica MASCOT Message
October 11, 2023

Location:  Throughout Jamaica

Event:  Jamaica’s Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of the dengue virus on September 23rd, 2023, due to an increase in cases throughout the island.  Over the last three months several hundred cases of dengue have been reported, including of the more severe (often called hemorrhagic) cases.

To date, there have been 1,060 confirmed dengue infections in Jamaica.  All parishes have recorded dengue cases, with Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Portland, and St. James recording the most confirmed cases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has added Dengue to their Traveler’s Health Notice for Dengue in the Americas, and provide the following information about dengue on their website:

About Dengue

Dengue viruses are spread to people through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito.  Dengue is caused by one of any of four related viruses (dengue virus 1, 2, 3, and 4), all of which have been present in Jamaica.  The same type of mosquitoes can also spread chikungunya, Zika, and other viruses.  If a person is infected with different dengue viruses during their life, it increases the chance of severe disease.

Aedes mosquitoes typically lay eggs in containers with standing water, like buckets, bowls, animal dishes, flowerpots, and vases.  Mosquitoes come out to feed around sunrise and sunset, but people can be bitten by an infected mosquito at any time during the day or night. Aedes mosquitoes often like to rest in closets or other indoor locations near humans.

Symptoms of Dengue Fever

Infection with dengue virus can result in no symptoms, mild, or severe illness.  Severe dengue can be life-threatening within a few hours and requires care at a hospital.

The most common symptom of dengue is fever with any of the following:  nausea, vomiting, rash, aches, and pains (including muscle, joint, or bone pain or eye pain, typically behind the eyes).  There is no specific medicine to treat dengue.

About one in 20 people who get sick with dengue will develop severe dengue.  Severe dengue can result in shock, internal bleeding, and even death.  If you have had dengue in the past, you are more likely to develop severe dengue when re-infected.  Infants and pregnant women are at higher risk of developing severe dengue.

Watch for signs and symptoms of severe dengue.  Warning signs usually begin in the 24-48 hours after your fever has gone away.  Immediately seek medical evaluation if you have any of the following symptoms:  belly pain or tenderness, vomiting (at least three times in 24 hours), bleeding from the nose or gums, vomiting blood, blood in your stool, or feeling tired, restless, or irritable.

Actions to Take:

  • Consult the CDC website  for more information about dengue transmission, testing, symptoms and treatment, and mosquito control.
  • Note that per the CDC, patients should avoid aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid), aspirin-containing drugs, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen).
  • Fever should be controlled with acetaminophen and tepid sponge baths.
  • Seek medical treatment  if experiencing any warning signs or any symptoms that cause you concern.
  • Outside your home, remove standing water where mosquitos may lay eggs, such as tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpot saucers, or trash containers.
  • Inside your home, empty any items that hold water, such as vases or flowerpot saucers.
  • Close windows and doors, or ensure you have screens in place. Consider using an indoor insecticide if you have mosquitoes in your home.
  • Use mosquito repellent when outdoors. Repellents with DEET or picaridin give the longest protection.