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Jamaica Health Tips Blog

October 2013

Understanding Dengue Fever

Why are mosquitoes attracted to some people than other?

Dengue fever is an infection caused by a virus called Dengue virus. There are four different type of this virus, Dengue type 1, 2, 3 and 4.  A person can only be infected with each type once in their life. The virus is spread when a female Aedes mosquito bites an infected person and then bites other people.
The female mosquito bites only to obtain blood from its source to provide iron and other nutrients needed for the development and maturation of its eggs. The belief is true; mosquitoes do prefer to snack on some people than others. 

 There are three distinct reasons,
1· Carbon dioxide - producing more carbon dioxide and lactic acid will cause a mosquito to be more attracted to you.  So the reason we always hear a mosquito buzzing at our ear is because as we breathe out the carbon dioxide from our nostril, and they follow that track at the angel of the ear. With that said, a pregnant woman is more attracted to a mosquito since she will emit more CO2.
2· Body temperature – producing greater body heat will attract mosquitoes, especially if you have a chemical blood type marker. So persons with type O blood type are 24% more attractive to a mosquito.
3· Sweating – sweating excessively means that your body temperature is very high and this will attract a mosquito to you. Children are always victims since they are always busy playing and running about. Additional persons who sweat easily and very physical and active individuals.
When infected with a dengue virus you may develop Dengue Fever or Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever (severe form of Dengue which often causes death).  Here are some signs and symptoms,
1.      Sudden onset of high fever and severe headache.
2.      Pain behind the eye, muscle, bone or joint pain.
3.      Skin rash, vomiting or feeling to vomit.
N: B for Dengue Haemorragic Fever, in severe cases patients may go into a shock called Dengue Shock Syndrome. In additional they may experience fainting, difficulty breathing, bleeding from nose, mouth or gum, stomach pain and skin bruising.
To prevent mosquitoes from breeding is to prevent them from having access to water.
·        Keep all water holding or storage container closed
·        Brush your premises regularly, since mosquitoes can breed in water on the grass leaves.
·        Clean all drains and trenches to allow water to flow easily.
·        Pour cooking oil and other oil in areas where water settles.
·        Package, store and dispose of water properly. E.g. punch holes in tins.

In case you feel you have dengue visit your doctor immediately, rest and drink a lot of fluids. Use Paracetamol pain killers only; do not use pain killers such as Aspirin or medications that have Aspirin in them, since they may increase your risk of bleeding.

Do you have measures in place to protect yourself and your family from Dengue Fever? 

knowing when eggs are safe to eat.

Eggs are one of the most economical and nutritious food known to man. It is important to however, not to mismanage eggs during the time of production through to consumption.  This is because mismanagement may compromise the safety and the quality of the egg and consequently facilitates the growth of microorganisms which can have deleterious effect on the health of the consumer.  

Eggs have been classified by many including the Food and Drug administration as being a potentially hazardous food. This is because it has being implicated in numerous foodborne disease outbreaks such as Salmonellosis. (FDA, 2001) According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, (2011), it is estimated that the average yearly production of eggs in Jamaica is at 120,977,659. Consequently there are approximately 16,200 unmonitored small egg farms contributing to the yearly production of eggs in the island, (Williams, 2004). This is of major public health concern because some eggs which you consume could be contaminated with deadly microorganisms that may result in loss of life.

 Most commercially produced eggs reach supermarkets within a few days of leaving the egg farm. If the market and the buyer handle them properly, they will still be fresh when they reach the table.  As an egg ages, the egg white becomes thinner and the yolk becomes flatter.

Blood Spots
Blood spots also called meat spots, occasionally found on an egg yolk. Contrary to popular opinion, these tiny spots do not indicate a fertilized egg. Rather, they are caused by the rupture of a blood vessel on the yolk surface during formation of the egg or by a similar accident in the wall of the oviduct. Less than 1% of all eggs produced have blood spots. As an egg ages, the yolk takes up water from the albumen to dilute the blood spot so, in actuality, a blood spot indicates that the egg is fresh. Both chemically and nutritionally, these eggs are fit to eat. The spot can be removed with the tip of a knife, if you wish.
  Table 1 : Showing the quality of egg from very fresh (left) to stale (right). 
How are eggs handled safely?
Proper refrigeration, cooking, and handling should prevent most egg-safety problems. Persons can enjoy eggs and dishes containing eggs if these safe handling guidelines are followed:

  • Wash utensils, equipment, and work areas with hot, soapy water before and after contact with eggs
  • Don't keep eggs out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours.
  • Raw eggs and other ingredients, combined according to recipe directions, should be cooked immediately or             refrigerated and cooked within 24 hours.
  • Always cook eggs until both the white and yolk are firm.
  • Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F. use a food thermometer to be sure.
  • Serve cooked eggs and dishes containing eggs immediately after cooking, or place in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerate at once for later use. Use within 3 to 4 days. 

Source : Marcia Reid (lecturer) @ University of Technology, Jamaica.