Wed | Feb 19, 2020

Close to 1,000 dengue cases last year; 79 so far this year - Tufton

Published:Friday | January 18, 2019 | 12:00 AMChristopher Thomas/Gleaner Writer
Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton


Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has revealed that the total number of reported dengue cases in Jamaica last year stood at 996, over 100 more than had previously been reported, and that 79 cases have been recorded to date since the start of 2019.

Tufton gave the update while addressing a members' meeting of the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Wednesday night in St James.

"The latest figures I have here show that suspected, presumed, or confirmed cases of dengue fever are now at 996. Earlier in the month I had said there were 830 cases because we were still checking notifications. You get notifications, then you verify, and then you get another category of suspected, presumed, or confirmed cases," Tufton explained.

"For 2019 so far, we have 79 cases as of yesterday (Tuesday) - suspected, presumed or confirmed - with one suspected death during the first two weeks of January. We're monitoring the situation, we're highlighting the need for personal responsibility, we're placing our vector workers out in the field, and we're taking whatever precautions are necessary, both on the treatment side as well as on the prevention side."

The minister noted that the last time Jamaica recorded a significant number of dengue cases was three years ago when approximately 2,600 cases were reported at the time of the Zika virus (ZIKV) outbreak.

"The key approach to addressing vector-borne viruses is to enhance the communication to the population and to develop and generate a community and household approach to management of breeding sites in particular. The real solution is to engage the communities and the community response to play their part in the controlling of breeding sites," noted Tufton.

The health ministry has allocated $250 million to the response efforts against the dengue fever outbreak, with 220 permanent vector-control workers active across the country.