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St. James MOH targeting rats and mosquitoes

Published:Tuesday | June 16, 2015 | 6:00 AMBarrington Flemming

The St James Health Department has submitted a J$1-million budget to the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Tourism Enhancement Fund to secure funding to bolster the parish's rodent and mosquito eradication programme.

Dr Marcia Johnson-Campbell, medical officer of health (MOH) for St James, said the vector-control programme should be treated as a matter of urgency with recent news of a suspected case of the zika virus in the Dominican Republic.

The MOH said the bid to rid the parish of rodents and mosquitoes should not be left up to the health department alone, but that residents should be encouraged to take charge of cleaning their immediate surroundings and other areas of debris, which could contribute to rat infestation and provide breeding sites for mosquitoes.

"We are calling for full-scale community support in this as residents will need to identify and eliminate the mosquito breeding sites," said Dr Johnson-Campbell. "We are also calling on them to properly package and dispose of their waste. So, it will be a collaborative effort as we are partnering with the parish council and the National Solid waste Management Authority in this campaign."

The Zika virus, which has caused a health scare in the South American country of Brazil, is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Its symptoms include severe fever, joint and muscle pains, headaches, rashes, and conjunctivitis. These symptoms usually appear three to 12 days following the bite of an infected mosquito.

Chikungunya effects

Dr Johnson-Campbell said residents must be aware and seek to act responsibly as some persons are still feeling the effects of the chikungunya virus which swept across the island last year into this year.

"It is vital that persons take the necessary precautions, which have been repeated so many times, to stave off the attacks of the mosquitoes," stated the MOH. "We need to clean up and eradicate the breeding sites of these vectors. This will significantly reduce the possibility of and rate of infection."

The health official said the rodent-eradication aspect of the campaign will be concentrated mainly in downtown Montego Bay, the Hip Strip and the resort areas.

"While we await approval and disbursement of funds to undertake the massive campaign for the parish, we are continuing to do minimal baiting in select areas from the limited local funds which we have," explain Dr Johnson-Campbell. "We need the additional funds to really launch a full attack on these vectors".

Rats are the primary carriers of leptospirosis and person can become infected by ingesting food or other products which may have been contaminated by the urine of the rodent.

It takes between two days and four weeks before an infected person begins to show signs of infection. The symptoms include diarrhoea, vomiting, chill, rash, jaundice, and abdominal pain.