Donation drive to help Marshall Islands during dengue outbreak — no known cases here

Dengue fever is a flu-like illness, and is a reportable disease in Oklahoma, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). It is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a virus, and is particular to tropical and sub-tropical areas, according to OSDH.

ENID, Okla. — The Micronesian Coalition of Garfield County is collecting donations of supplies and money to help residents of the Marshall Islands, as the island nation suffers an outbreak of dengue fever.

On Aug. 7, the government of the Republic of the Marshall Islands issued a state of health emergency due to a dengue fever outbreak. Enid is home to the largest population of Marshallese people in Oklahoma, and has one of the most dense concentrations of Marshall Islanders in the United States.

Dengue fever is a flu-like illness, and is a reportable disease in Oklahoma, according to Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). It is a mosquito-borne disease caused by a virus, and is particular to tropical and sub-tropical areas, according to OSDH.

Dengue cannot be spread directly from person to person, according to World Health Organization, but a person infected and suffering from dengue fever can infect other mosquitoes.

Maggie Jackson, OSDH regional director for Garfield, Alfalfa, Grant, Major and Woods counties, said there are no known cases of dengue fever in the region. She said that would be rare, since it cannot spread from person to person, and the mosquito that transmits the disease is a tropical variety not found in Oklahoma.

Donations are being collected for those in the Marshall Islands, many of whom have ties to the Enid community through family members who have moved here.

Dengue fever usually starts suddenly with a high fever, rash, severe headache, pain behind the eyes and muscle and joint pain. The severity of the joint pain has given dengue the name “breakbone fever,” according to OSDH. Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite also are common.

A rash usually appears three to four days after the start of the fever. The illness can last up to 10 days, but complete recovery can take as long as a month.

Monetary donations to help provide preventive supplies to the Marshall Islands are best, but supplies also are needed, including:

• Mosquito repellant with a minimum concentration of 20% DEET in 2 ounce plastic bottles — no aluminum cans.

• Mosquito bed nets treated with Permethrin.

• Flat sheets and sheet sets, in twin and full sizes.

• Pillows, pillow cases and blankets.

• Regular strength Tylenol.

• Monetary donations.

Donations will be accepted until Oct. 31 at Garfield County Health Department, 2501 Mercer; Enid Community Clinic, 1106 E. Broadway; and Rural Health Projects, 2929 E. Randolph.

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Neal is health, military affairs and religion reporter and columnist for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @jamesnealwriter, and online at jamesrneal.com.
Have a question about this story? Do you see something we missed? Do you have a story idea for James? Send an email to jneal@enidnews.com.

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