What does climate change have to do with dengue fever?
The scientific evidence is suggesting a lot, according to Robert Pickersgill, minister of water, land, environment and climate change.
"The scientific community has also made a link between climate change and certain diseases. Warmer temperatures have been linked to the increased prevalence of dengue fever, another serious challenge which we have faced as a country this year," Pickersgill disclosed last Friday.
"Scientists tell us that peaks in reported cases of dengue in the Caribbean occur when temperatures in the region are warmer than normal," Pickersgill shared at a press briefing.
While he did not provide any statistics in support of the statement, Pickersgill stressed the importance of learning how to keep safe when faced by climate change and its impact on our health.
Dengue is a severe flu-like viral disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito and Jamaica is now experiencing an outbreak.
Common symptoms include sudden onset of high fever with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle pain, bone or joint pain, and vomiting or feeling nauseous.
The health ministry has reported 2,198 suspected cases of dengue as at October 20, compared to 458 for the corresponding period last year and 2,709 for the same period in 2010.
Meanwhile, Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse, director emergency, disaster management and special services at the Health Ministry, said it has stepped up its Dengue Outbreak Control Programme, to manage mosquito breeding sites that would have developed as a result of the recent passage of Hurricane Sandy.
She urged people to be vigilant and look for and destroy mosquito breeding sites, with Pickersgill underscoring the importance of public education in helping the public adapt to this re-emerging health problem.
"By listening to radio ads or reading posters and flyers produced by the Health Ministry and its partners, people learn how to get rid of mosquito breeding sites and what to do if there are suspected cases of dengue.
"Again, this is a demonstration of how as a country we are working to cope with challenges caused by a changing climate, through simple but effective measures," said Pickersgill.