First there was Chikungunya, then there was Zika. Well now, we have to prepare ourselves for yet another mosquito-borne disease – malaria.
The Ministry of Health has already reported two imported cases of the disease in the island since the start of the year.
So, since it’s better to be safe than to be sorry, Flair has decided to provide a few safety tips so you can recognise the signs and symptoms, as well as sharing guidelines for possible prevention.
According to the Ministry of Health, “The malaria parasite is transmitted to humans by the infected bite of female Anopheles mosquitoes called ‘malaria vectors’. There are more than 30 anopheline species that transmit malaria, and Anopheles albimanus is considered the principal vector for transmission in Jamaica.”
Jamaica has already had a history with the disease, winning the battle of elimination in 195862, with the last major case reported in 1961. The country has since been able to ward off the disease with high-level prevention methods, and is determined to take on the war with this possible epidemic.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), in the World Malaria Report of 2016, the ministry highlighted, had reported 91 countries experiencing ongoing malaria transmission. According to this report, there were approximately 212 million new cases of malaria worldwide in 2015 (range 148-304 million) with the WHO African Region accounting for most of global cases of malaria (90 per cent), followed by the Southeast 3 Asia Region (7 per cent) and the Eastern Mediterranean Region (two per cent). The endemic countries are Africa, the Americas, Eastern Mediterranean, Europe, Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
The signs and symptoms to look out for if you suspect you might have Malaria include: chills, fever, fatigue, sweats, nausea and vomiting, as well as headache. Infants and children under the age of five years old, pregnant women, individuals with HIV/AIDS, persons not immunised and foreigners travelling in and out of the country should be extra vigilant because they are at higher risk of catching the virus.
Prevention medications for malaria, the ministry pointed out, are already available in Jamaica. They advise that antimalarial drugs should be taken before, during, and after travelling, and up to a month upon return. The Ministry of Health is urging Jamaicans to be cautious when travelling to areas affected by malaria. You should contact your physician or health centre before travelling to malaria-endemic areas, also if you develop any of the symptoms listed above after returning from these affected territories.
For more information, visit the Ministry of Health website: http://moh.gov.jm.