Jamaica News: Parents are being advised to observe the recommended safety measures put forward by the Ministry of Health to protect children from contracting dengue fever.
Speaking with JIS News, Consultant Paediatrician/Paediatric Nephrologist at the Bustamante Hospital for Children, Dr. Sandrica Young Peart, said that children are among the most vulnerable groups at risk of contracting the virus.
“Individuals or persons who have chronic or underlying conditions are also at increased risk of getting the severe form of dengue,” she said.
The groups include pregnant women, infants or babies, older persons, those who have chronic underlying conditions, such as diabetes, kidney problems, sickle cell disease, cancer or persons who are taking medications that affect their immune system.
“Anything that affects your immune system is going to affect your response to the virus,” Dr. Young Peart informed.
She emphasised that parents can protect children by ensuring they wear long sleeves, especially at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
“These types of clothes provide maximum coverage, especially at dusk and early morning, because these are the times of day that the Aedes aegypti mosquito is likely to feed or to bite,” she added.
They are also encouraged to apply insect repellent that contains DEET or picaridin to children before they go to school, and to use mosquito nets over their beds.
For older children, parents can allow them to take an insect repellent with them to school, so they can reapply it throughout the course of the day.
Dr. Young Peart cautioned that insect repellents that contain DEET should not be used on infants younger than two months.
“Substances containing DEET are toxic to younger infants and can be poisonous and cause them to develop central nervous system symptoms of lethargy or display signs of poisoning,” she noted.
She also advised parents to encourage children to stay inside as much as possible to minimise the chances of being bitten.
Parents should also ensure that children maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, and take multi-vitamins and vitamin C to boost the immune system.
“What they can do is take the same things that we encourage persons to take for any illness, such as virus or the flu, which is to take multi-vitamins, daily doses of vitamin C and eat healthy – plenty of fruits and vegetables,” Dr. Young Peart advised.
She is encouraging parents to remain on high alert to see if children exhibit symptoms of the virus.
Manifestations of the virus in children include persistent fever and diarrhoea. Infants may also have seizures.
“What we want is to encourage parents to have a high index of suspicion for dengue fever. We recommend that once the child is having persistent fever, vomiting, losing appetite, is very lethargic or fussy and miserable, then they should take the child in to be reviewed by a physician as soon as possible,” she urged.
Source: JIS News