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Potential mosquito-borne virus threat: Opposition calls for cleanup programme

Published:Tuesday | May 19, 2015 | 2:15 PMJerome Reynolds, Staff Reporter
Marlene Malahoo Forte

Opposition spokesperson on health, Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, says the Government should immediately undertake a cleanup programme to minimise the impact of the Zika virus (ZIKV).

The Ministry of Health has advised that there is now an outbreak of the virus in Brazil and it poses a potential threat to Jamaica.

Permanent Secretary in the health ministry, Dr Kevin Harvey, said the ministry is taking the threat very seriously as the virus is spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito which also carries the dengue and Chikungunya viruses.

Malahoo Forte says now is the time to take action.

She says in addition to a cleanup programme, health workers should begin to reach out to communities.

The opposition spokesperson says it is critical that the health ministry tell the country all it knows about the Zika virus so that Jamaicans can know how to protect themselves.

Malahoo Forte asserts that the health ministry should avoid a repeat of the bungling in the handling of the Chik-V outbreak last year.


Opposition spokesperson on health, Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte

The opposition health spokesman is also urging Jamaicans to take responsibility for their surroundings and to eliminate mosquito breeding sites.

The Zika virus is from the same family as the dengue and chikungunya viruses and share similar symptoms which include fever, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, headache, weakness, rash and swelling of the lower limbs.

Symptoms usually appear three to 12 days after an infected mosquito bites a person and can last for four to seven days.

The Health Ministry says to date no deaths due to the Zika virus have been recorded worldwide although outbreaks have taken place in 2007, 2013 and this year.