Wed | Oct 28, 2020

Inspector warns of St Catherine dengue threat

Published:Monday | September 21, 2020 | 12:12 AMRasbert Turner/Gleaner Writer

The recent rains that broke the prolonged drought may offer welcome blessings for farmers but have heightened the threat of dengue fever and other mosquito-related illnesses.

Chief public health inspector for St Catherine Grayson Hutchinson revealed at a September 10 meeting of the parish’s municipal corporation that mosquito larvae were found in 50 per cent of the 56 drains examined recently.

Hutchinson called for the Ministry of Health and Wellness to intensify vector-control operations, including fogging.

In an interview with The Gleaner, Hutchinson said that residents of Greater Portmore, Old Braeton, and Hamilton Gardens have complained about a rapid increase in the mosquito population.

“While we do vector control, sections of Greater Portmore will be hard to contain as there are still lillies in the ponds, which form a haven for mosquitoes,” Hutchinson said.

The warning is dire as the health ministry grapples with potentially the greatest public health threat in a generation – the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, residents in Portmore have confirmed that mosquito numbers are on the rise.

“I am under attack from mosquitoes since the start of the rains. I have to be buying destroyers left, right and centre,” said Nicole Wright.

“I realised that the pests them get serious, and I hope that the health people can intensify its approach.”

Meanwhile, Councillor Claude Hamilton said that there are concerns in Caymanas Gardens, Portmore Pines, and other sections in the municipality.

Hamilton called for the problem to be tackled urgently to limit the deadly cocktail of coronavirus and dengue fever.

“We are getting calls daily about the mosquitoes plaguing residents in the municipality,” Hamilton said.

Hutchinson has implored councillors to ramp up public health campaigns in their divisions, with particular emphasis on getting residents and business operators to empty or remove receptacles that provide ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is the vector that transmits dengue.

Data from the Pan American Health Organization show that Jamaica had 7,555 cases of dengue in 2019, with 24 deaths resulting from the mosquito-borne disease. By comparison, 729 cases and one death from dengue were recorded up to July this year.