Mon | May 20, 2019

Outbreak - Ministry urges caution as dengue cases spike, fatalities confirmed

Published:Friday | January 4, 2019 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton speaking at an emergency press conference held at the Ministry of Health to address the current outbreak of dengue fever.
Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, speaking at an emergency press conference held at the Ministry of Health to address the current outbreak of dengue fever.
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The Ministry of Health has pumped an additional $250 million into its response efforts as the island is now experiencing an outbreak of dengue fever.

Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton made the announcement yesterday during a press conference at his ministry's offices in New Kingston.

Tufton said that for December, there were 123 reported dengue cases. This number includes suspected, presumed, and confirmed cases. The number also exceeds the outbreak threshold of 96 cases.

He noted, too, that seven deaths have been reported since the start of the season, two of which have been confirmed as dengue related.

"I want to urge us all to play our part even as we coordinate at the level of the ministry and the country. If you feel the headaches and other symptoms, it's important that you see your physician. Self-medicating has to be guided," he said.

"We say to Jamaicans, to the extent that you are unsure, seek medical advice before you self-medicate. I think it's important to recognise that we can, and will, overcome the problems that we face. It is not new to us. The Aedes aegypti (mosquito) is a part of us, and these challenges will always occur," he continued.

He said that a number of measures have been ramped up in order to effectively deal with the outbreak.

Dr Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie, chief medical officer, said that Kingston and St Andrew currently have the highest number of reported cases. Other parishes that have been adversely affected include St Catherine, Westmoreland, and St Ann.

"We have had an enhanced surveillance going on, especially since we have been in the dengue season, and this means that we have daily updating of our numbers. So the cases come in and they are assessed to see if they meet the case definition," she said.

"So as of this morning (Thursday), based on the updating of cases up to last night, we can say that we have passed the level."

 

SYMPTOMS

 

- Sudden, high fever

- Severe headaches

- Pain behind the eyes

- Severe joint and muscle pain

- Fatigue

- Nausea

- Vomiting

- Skin rash, which appears two to five days after the onset of fever.

- Mild bleeding (such as nose bleed, bleeding gums, or easy bruising)

 

FACTS

 

- Dengue fever is a disease caused by a family of viruses that are transmitted by Aedes mosquitoes.

- The dengue virus is prevalent throughout the tropics and subtropics.

- Dengue fever is caused by a virus, and there is no specific medicine or antibiotic to treat it.

- For typical dengue fever, the treatment is directed towards relief of the symptoms (symptomatic treatment).

- Papaya leaf extract can be used to treat dengue fever.

- The acute phase of the illness with fever and muscle pain lasts about one to two weeks.

- Dengue haemorrhagic fever is a specific syndrome that tends to affect children under 10 years of age. This complication of dengue causes abdominal pain, haemorrhaging (bleeding), and circulatory collapse (shock).

- The prevention of dengue fever requires control or eradication of the mosquitoes carrying the virus that causes dengue.

- The vaccine for dengue fever was approved in April 2016 for use in dengue-endemic areas.

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com