A highly infectious skin disease recently detected in Haiti has put The Dominican Republic on high alert. Haiti, a country that shares a nearly 250-mile-long border with the Dominican Republic, has found several cases of the disease within its territory in the past few days. Experts from the national Department of Health and Epidemiology are keeping a close eye on potential outbreaks in the country. Medical associations are also working closely with the government to respond to a potential public health crisis. So far, no cases have been confirmed in the Dominican Republic, and authorities urge citizens to remain calm.
Carlos Suero, the spokesperson for the Dominican Health Department, told reporters that authorities are monitoring hospitals and especially border crossing points for any suspicious cases. “As of now there have been no confirmed outbreaks or cases of infectious skin disease in our country”, the expert said. However, officials are on high alert and taking additional measures to monitor the situation. The Dominican Republic relies on its National Epidemiological Vigilance System to evaluate infectious diseases, but so far there have been no indications of local spread. It is thought that the disease may be parasitic in origin, and experts are expecting more evidence in the coming days.
As part of the increased alert level, officials will be carrying out thorough healthcare checks at hospitals across the country. Border crossings are another major target, and travelers can expect to see more rigorous checks in the upcoming days. Authorities are especially on the lookout for any suspicious symptoms that may pinpoint to the mysterious disease. Airports, too, might be affected by the current situation, although the focus remains on cross-border land travel. Travelers intending to cross the border to Haiti should take extra precautions. However, travel to that country is currently not advised due to health and safety concerns according to the U.S Department of State travel advisory.
The Dominican national health organism recently warned anyone who notices unusual symptoms of the skin to visit their closest healthcare provider. Unexplained wounds and as well as itchiness, especially at night, are some of the main indications to keep an eye on. For its part, the Dominican Association of Dermatologists issued a statement asking residents to remain calm, noting that the country is well-prepared for possible outbreaks. In addition, they note that the disease appears to spread easily from person to person, meaning big families should be especially vigilant.
The national health department will continue to evaluate the situation and is expected to release more detailed information once it becomes available. In the meantime, residents are being asked to practice good hygiene to ensure minimal risk. They include, for example, adequate handwashing and avoiding unnecessary skin contact with others.
Haiti and the Dominican Republic are no stranger to infectious disease outbreaks. The two countries share deep economic, social, and demographic ties, increasing the likelihood of spread from one country to the other. With recent cases of African Swine fever reported in Haiti, both countries have been working together to eradicate such disease. Officials are also calling for more humanitarian aid to be made available for Haiti to improve access to healthcare, which remains limited.
With thousands of people crossing the border between The Dominican Republic and Haiti each day, infectious disease remains a major risk. Moreover, more than 500,000 Haitians live in the Dominican Republic, many of whom cross the border multiple times a week. The high number of undocumented migrants, as well as illegal border crossings, makes the situation particularly worrisome.
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