Dengue fever epidemic declared in Puerto Rico

Lorenzo Gonzalez Feliciano, the secretary of health in Puerto Rico, officially declared an epidemic of dengue fever on the Caribbean island on Monday.

Feliciano consulted with Harold Margolis, the dengue director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, after 4,816 suspected cases of dengue were reported for all of 2012 as of October 5. Puerto Rico experienced 21 severe cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever and four deaths as a result, the Examiner reports.

"In consultation with the CDC today, and the fact that there has been a increase in reported cases for two consecutive weeks above the epidemic curve, and in recent weeks, more than 50 percent of the reported cases have been confirmed by laboratory testing leads us to make the decision to declare epidemic in Puerto Rico," Feliciano said, according to the Examiner. "Furthermore, we see that the trend of an increase in reported cases could continue in coming weeks."

Feliciano requested that the health department's epidemiologist make sure that the revised dengue patient management guidelines are put into place and that the procedures and policies are updated for the Department of Health.

Puerto Rico will also implement a call center to follow-up on dengue patients and a place for residents to call upon finding serious mosquito breeding grounds that must be resolved, the Examiner reports.