Sat | Jun 15, 2019

Child's death triggers high alert to dengue

Published:Saturday | January 12, 2019 | 12:24 AMGareth Davis Snr/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton examines an old tyre with a health worker during an islandwide vector clean-up operation.

PORT ANTONIO, PORTLAND:

Following the revelation that a child reportedly died from the dreaded dengue virus, health officials and directors from the Portland Municipal Corporation have launched a public education campaign to sensitise residents about the need to clean up their surroundings.

The public education campaign comes against the background of a startling report provided by Dr Sharon Lewis, Senior Medical Officer in charge of the parish, on Thursday during the monthly sitting of the Portland Municipal Corporation.

Dr Lewis told the corporation that since the start of 2019, there have been 12 suspected cases of the dengue virus in the parish, while adding that in December last year there were a total of nine suspected cases, which resulted in the death of a child.

“There were no reported cases of dengue fever between the periods January and December 2017," noted Dr Lewis.

“No cases were reported at the beginning of last year; however, there were nine suspected cases in December. Most of the suspected dengue cases involves children that are 13 years and under, with conditions severe enough to require admission. Unfortunately, this resulted in the death of child at St. Ann’s Bay Hospital."

According to Dr Lewis, measures have been implemented to rid and disrupt mosquito breeding sites throughout the parish. Dr Lewis is also urging residents to take the necessary precautions by disposing of water holding containers, derelict materials, and other devices that can contribute to the breeding of mosquitoes.  

“It is imperative for everyone to engage in searching for mosquito breeding sites and to destroy them. As a precaution, we are to avoid been bitten by mosquitoes by using repellents, sleeping under mosquito nets, and screening our doors and windows where possible," she further stated.

LIVES ARE AT STAKE

In the meantime, Mayor of Port Antonio, Paul Thompson, will be spearheading a team from the Portland Municipal Corporation to conduct a rigid public education campaign in all nine parish council divisions, as well as conduct a major cleanup exercise to rid communities of mosquito breeding sites, solid waste and discarded storage containers.

“This will require a partnership between this corporation, the ministry of health, and the National Solid Waste Management Authority, “Thompson stated.

“This dengue outbreak is serious and deadly and we will ensure that each resident and householder plays his or her part in the fight against mosquitoes. Whatever resources are needed will be made available, as the lives of the very young and elderly are at stake.”        

Already, the fight against the vector has started with a major cleaning-up of mosquito breeding sites at an informal settlement in Port Antonio and other surrounding areas by a team led by Tracey Fakhourie from the North Eastern Parks and Market Waste Management Limited.