St Ann battling dengue cases, residents urged to reduce breeding sites
An appeal is being made for residents of St Ann to step up their elimination of mosquito breeding sites as sections of the parish are experiencing increases in suspected cases of dengue.
This has resulted in an increased patient load at the St Ann’s Bay Regional Hospital.
Some health officials have expressed concern over the many cases being recorded at the hospital as "highly suspicious" of dengue.
Last week Tuesday, a nine-month-old baby was reportedly airlifted from the hospital to the Bustamante Hospital for Children in St Andrew, and it is suspected that it is a dengue case based on the symptoms, a health worker, who asked not to be identified, told The Gleaner.
The health worker further disclosed that a four-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy died at the hospital last month and that the deaths are highly suspected to have been caused by dengue.
The health worker said that the hospital’s paediatric ward has been seeing an increase in children coming in with symptoms of dengue.
Additionally, it is being claimed that the emergency room is also crowded with people with dengue symptoms and that they cannot be admitted because there is no space on the wards.
Acting senior medical officer at the hospital Dr Derrick McDowell, speaking with The Gleaner, declined to comment on the specific cases but acknowledged that the health facility is seeing an increase in suspected dengue cases.
McDowell did, however, disclose that the hospital has recorded “negative outcomes of dengue complications”.
He said that 110 persons were admitted to the hospital for dengue in September, which he noted was a jump from the 50 cases per month seen during a peak earlier in the year.
“ I don’t know what October will bring, but the graph was on the upswing at the end of September,” McDowell said.
“We are managing. We have had to sharpen up our diagnostic skills… diagnoses have been made, and we actually had to do early interventions to offset some of the problems, but we are managing,” he continued.
Dr Tameka Henry, acting medical officer of health for St Ann, told The Gleaner that there was an increase in dengue cases between January and May but that the numbers subsequently trended down.
She said, however, said the figures have since picked up.
She said that between January and August, there were 723 reported cases in the parish, 585, or 81 per cent, matching the case definition of suspected dengue.
There have been no lab-confirmed cases.
She indicated that persons in the five- to-14 group are most commonly affected, followed by those in the 25-44 age group.
Henry also said that vector reduction and intervention activities continue across the parish.
She said that these include the resensitisation of clinicians, public education, the engagement of community leaders/groups, health fairs, health education and promotion, and search-and-destroy operations.
Henry said that St Ann experienced its first wave of cases earlier in the year with communities in Ocho Rios and St Ann’s Bay worst affected.
In the second wave in June, she said communities such as Alexandria, Claremount, and Brown's Town were hit by suspected cases.
“What we want is for our public to help us with the prevention activities because we know a lot of people want us to come around and fog. Once we have cases in the area or get a lot of complaints or a high-risk area, we do have our fogging activities there because we do believe that it is essential,” she said.
“We have to try our best as a community to take preventative efforts, and that’s what we are calling for the population to do, to really help prevent the breeding of mosquitoes, because if there is no breeding site, then there is no dengue,” Henry said.
What is dengue
*Dengue is an infection caused by a virus spread by the bite of an infected Aedes mosquito.
* high fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pains, skin rash and vomiting
There is no specific medicine to treat dengue infection. If you think you may have dengue fever, you should use pain relievers with acetaminophen and avoid medicines with aspirin, which could worsen bleeding. You should also rest, drink plenty of fluids, and see your doctor. If you start to feel worse in the first 24 hours after your fever goes down, you should get to a hospital immediately to be checked for complications.
Health centres extended opening hours
* Noting that hospital visits will increase during this time of the year due to the flu, dengue and other seasonal illnesses, the Ministry of Health and Wellness had advised that the opening hours at several health centres were extended to ensure that Jamaican have access to care.