Fri | Aug 7, 2020

Dengue outbreak over for Jamaica - Continued vigilance encouraged

Published:Monday | July 13, 2020 | 12:07 AM
Dr Christopher Tufton.
Dr Christopher Tufton.

The Chief Medical Officer of Jamaica Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie has declared that the island’s dengue outbreak is now over. This comes as the data from the Ministry of Health and Wellness’s National Epidemiology Unit showed that for the last four consecutive months of 2020, the number of dengue cases reported was below the epidemic threshold. March saw 37 dengue cases, two in April, eight in May and two in June.

Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton made this revelation during his sectoral presentation recently. At the same time, he cautioned members of the public to remain vigilant against this disease, which is in the country all year round.

“It is necessary that persons continue to maintain the vigilance in the practice of the measures to reduce the mosquito population, including searching their surroundings weekly for breeding sites and destroying them, covering water-storage containers, and punching holes in cans and bottles before discarding them”, Tufton said.

The minister also used the opportunity to thank the vector control team and external partners, who played a role in getting Jamaica to this stage.

THANKFUL TO THE TEAM

“I want to take the opportunity to thank the Vector Control Unit and the entire public health infrastructure for its focused attention to prevent, control and treat dengue,” he said.

Since late 2018, the ministry has put several measures in place to minimise the impact of vector-borne diseases, and dengue in particular. These measures included a massive communication and behaviour-change campaign that sought to reinforce the principle of personal responsibility for health; employment of more than 1,000 vector-control workers; increasing the number of dedicated vector control vehicles by some 71 per cent, up from 25 to 85, at a cost of more than $289 million; and collaboration with the municipal corporations and the National Solid Waste Management Authority for the removal of bulky waste that harbour and provide a safe haven for the dreaded Aedes aegypti mosquito.

During the annual rainy season and even in the drought, where water storage increases, the ministry will continue the activation of its mosquito-control activities, including a public education campaign, home inspections and the destruction of breeding sites, and fogging. Members of the public are encouraged to play their part to control mosquito-borne diseases by keeping surroundings free of debris; destroying or treating potential mosquito-breeding sites; wearing protective clothing; using a DEET-containing mosquito repellant and, as much as possible, staying indoors at dusk with windows and doors closed. Persons may call the Ministry of Health and Wellness at 888-ONE-LOVE (663-5683) with any reports or concerns.