Dengue has increased over the last decades, not just in Aruba, but around the world. In 2011, until September, some 3000 confirmed/suspected cases have been recorded in Aruba. With 1 out of 35 people on the island experiencing an infection this year, dengue should be considered a major health threat.
Do we have all types of the virus in Aruba?
Yes. Gradually, through people travelling to the island, serotypes 1-3 arrived. This year (2011), serotype 4 was detected for the first time.
What is the economic impact?
Patients suffering from dengue obviously cannot work or look after their families, and will incur physician or hospital costs. Absenteeism from work will affect the employer. Insurance companies (AZV) will also be affected economically. In Aruba, costs involved in diagnosis of the virus are high (Afl 80 per blood sample), and pose a financial burden on the DVG (Landslaboratorium). Mosquito control is in the hands of the GKMB (Gele Koorts Muskietbestijding Dienst), draining financial resources of the Ministry of Health.
How is tourism affected?
Aruba’s economy is largely dependent on tourism. Any threat to tourism is therefore a direct threat to the economy of Aruba. Dengue poses the single largest threat to tourism. Dengue therefore poses a direct threat to Aruba’s economy.
Outbreaks of dengue or other mosquito-borne viruses can have devastating effects on tourism. Through the press and social media, tourists can quickly find out if there is a major disease threat, and if so, will not visit Aruba. In 2011, three people died in Aruba as a result of dengue, two of which were tourists. This generates a lot of negative press, which may lead to a decline in tourist numbers.
Puerto Rico had a dengue epidemic in 2010, costing 31 lives. The Maldives had an outbreak in July 2011, claiming 11 lives within 2 weeks. In both cases, tourism practically came to a standstill.
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