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12 November 2009 

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First Recorded Dengue Fever Epidemic Hits Cape Verde

12 November 2009

Red Cross officials say an outbreak of dengue fever in Cape Verde is the worst ever in West Africa.

Map of Cape Verde
Hospitals in Cape Verde are running out of room for their patients this week, says the Red Cross' West and Central Africa Health Coordinator Anders Naucler, as the country deals with the biggest dengue fever epidemic it has ever seen.

"The national hospital here is overcrowded, yes, by patients, and they have raised a tent outside to make a triage of the patients, so some patients can be sent home, and some patients have to be observed so to look for hemorrhagic fever," Naucler said.

Cape Verde first reported cases of dengue fever in September and the epidemic has spread to more than 13,700 cases, say Red Cross officials.

Dengue fever, which is spread by mosquitoes, displays symptoms similar to malaria. The patient may experience headache, fever, fatigue and severe muscle pain.

Naucler adds the danger is when patients acquire the potentially fatal dengue hemorrhagic fever.

"The dangers of dengue are serious," Naucler said. "If you get hemorrhage syndromes, and then you can, it can lead that you get into hemorrhagic shock syndrome, where you get hypertension and all these things. It is really a disease that you have to observe all the time when you are sick."

Naucler says area hospitals are clinically managing the outbreak well, but the importance lies is future prevention tactics.

"They have gone out for campaigns already and to cleaning up compounds with stagnated water and garbage and things like that, but this is things that everybody, the mentality has to be inside of everyone in here, they have to take care of their garbage, things like that," Naucler said.

Six people have reportedly died from the outbreak. Senegal also confirmed the existence of 19 cases of dengue fever this week.   

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