Chicken pox starts, dengue spikes

Concern about a resurgence of dengue fever in the Marshall Islands promoted the Ministry of Health and Human Services to reach out to the Ministry of Education to encourage prevention activities in the schools. Deputy Secretary Mailynn Konelios-Lang, left, spoke about prevention activities to public school principals on September 18 at PSS headquarters. Photo: Eve Burns.

With Dengue fever going up, the Ministry of Health called all school principals to a meeting at Public School System headquarters last week. Deputy Health Secretary Mailynn Konelios-Lang led the meeting.

The meeting was focused on the fact that those affected by dengue are the children who are in school.

Marshall Islands have been battling dengue since 2019 and the cases were slowing down but are now going up, she said. It has spread again to outer islands, with Mili, Likiep and Jaluit all showing cases in the past week for the first time since the last outer island case in June.

Mailynn encouraged all the schools to keep their environment clean and make sure to get rid of the anything that will capture water and create mosquito breeding areas. Mailynn went on to explain that mosquitos live in water. When a mosquito bites someone who has the dengue virus, it infects the mosquito so that all the larvae it carries will have the virus and continue spreading it.

Not only are we facing dengue, but Majuro hospital have been seeing cases chicken pox, once you have pox you develop a natural immune to the virus. Mailynn said but the school should still send the students home.

Over 50 cases of chickenpox were recorded the past four weeks — most of them on Ebeye — and the trend is upward, according to Ministry of Health and Human Services statistics.
The ministry saw only 88 cases of chicken pox for all of 2019. This year, it has recorded 159, with a third of those in the past four weeks.

“With the reopening of schools in August, a large increase has been noted,” said a ministry report on the situation.

Although chicken pox is considered endemic in the RMI — meaning it is regularly seen — it is not part of routine immunizations provided by them ministry to children here.


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