Dengue threat bites St Mary
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
A dengue epidemic is threatening to hit St Mary with the parish's health department detecting a breeding level of the
mosquito, which carries the disease, that is almost four times the accepted level set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
In a report dated February 8, addressed to secretary/manager of the St Mary Parish Council, Ethlyn Douglas, the vector control division of the St Mary Health Department, said of 507 premises inspected in January, 91 were found to be harbouring the breeding of the mosquitoes.
This translates to an index level of 17.9 per cent, which represents a real threat when compared with the index level of five per cent which the WHO says is sufficient to support an epidemic of dengue or dengue haemorrhagic fever.
Last month, when the St Mary Health Department inspected the premises in Port Maria, Annotto Bay, Gayle and Highgate, it found that Gayle was the area most affected.
In Gayle, of the 158 premises inspected, 75 had breeding sites for the mosquitoes.
The report attributed the current situation, at least in part, to the water problem being experienced in the parish as several householders have been storing water for domestic use in drums which act as breeding sites for the mosquitoes. There was a total of 466 drums where mosquitoes were breeding on the 507 premises inspected.
The report also indicated that there were 11 breeding sites on 103 premises in Highgate, four on 71 in Annotto Bay and one on 175 in the capital, Port Maria.
Rats wreak havoc
Meanwhile, the rodent infestation rate of the same 507 premises has been put at 55 per cent, or 280 of the total premises.
The community of Gayle is also the worst affected, with a rate of 82 per cent, or 129 of 158 premises that were inspected in that community.
"This could be attributed to the widespread agricultural activities which may provide rodents with habitat and food supply," stated the report.
Port Maria followed with 69 per cent, or 121 of 175 premises, showing current rodent signs. The situation in Port Maria, suggested the report, may be linked to swamp conditions in proximity to commercial developments in the town.
Annotto Bay showed a 35 per cent rate, with 25 of 71 premises, and Highgate five per cent, with five of 103 premises showing signs of infestation.
The report also indicated an increased incidence of gastro-enteritis in St Mary. While no figures were presented, the report encouraged the practice of regular hand washing, especially by children and mothers tending to infants.