Dengue fever, leptospirosis, chicken pox and conjunctivitis were among the most common infectious diseases causing concern for health officials last year.

According to surveillance data, provided by the Ministry of Health, there were three deaths from dengue and one from leptospirosis in 2008, while conjunctivitis (“Red Eye”) reached epidemic proportions.

 With respect to dengue, a comparative analysis revealed that there were 1,426 suspected cases of dengue in 2007 when compared to 749 in 2008.  Additionally, those confirmed in the laboratory in 2007 stood at 640 cases and 280 in 2008. No dengue deaths were recorded in 2007.

The 2007 figures for leptospirosis revealed that 28 cases were confirmed in the laboratory, while three deaths were recorded. A slight drop in figures for 2008 showed 23 cases and one recorded death. It was further revealed that one of these cases, confirmed in the last quarter of 2008, actually died during the first week of 2009.

Meanwhile, surveillance data on chicken pox and conjunctivitis were available for only 2008. With respect to chicken pox, some 349 cases were recorded of which 155 were in the first six months of the year. One hundred and ninety-four cases were reported in the second half of 2008.  Of the 194 cases, 147 or 76% were from October to December.  The majority of these – 71 cases or 48%, however, occurred in November.

Conjunctivitis cases recorded for 2008 totalled 6,651, and there were 10.5 times more cases in the second half of 2008. In that period, there were 6,074 recorded cases when compared to the first half of 2008. Of these 6,074 cases, 4,350 cases or 72% were recorded from October to December. The majority of the cases 3,789 or 87% in this last quarter were, however, documented during the month of October.
Given the above data, and with only one month into 2009, the Health Ministry is again warning the public to be vigilant, heed all warnings and take the necessary precautions against dengue, leptospirosis, chicken pox and conjunctivitis.

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