Nadisha Hunter, Staff Reporter
THE HEALTH ministry is urging Jamaicans not to panic in the wake of reports that a Jamaican living in St Ann has contracted the potentially deadly malaria disease.
In confirming the report first carried by The Gleaner, the health ministry argued that while there is one confirmed case of malaria on the island, this is not unusual.
According to the ministry, Jamaica has had no locally transmitted cases of malaria since 2009.
"There were five imported cases in 2012 and one imported case since 2013," said Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael Coombs.
He argued that the ministry has been managing the latest case according to World Health Organization guidelines.
"Our public-health team has visited the community to check persons with whom the patient had contact. The ministry is also continuing its routine surveillance, which will allow us to be in a position to quickly identify and treat persons if the need arises," Coombs claimed.
He noted that the latest confirmed case has prompted the ministry to issue a warning for persons to ensure they check with its officials or the parish health departments before they travel to ensure that they take the necessary health-related precautionary measures.
"We are urging persons to check with us if they are not sure about the requirements for a particular country. This is important to prevent illness and the spread of certain diseases among our population," said Coombs.
He also encouraged persons to continue their efforts to destroy mosquito-breeding sites and protect themselves from mosquito bites.
Efforts by The Gleaner to contact family members of the patient failed yesterday. However, our news team has confirmed that the young man started feeling ill after he worked at a major music festival over the Christmas period. He visited a doctor who checked and confirmed that he was suffering from malaria.
The disease is spread when the Anopheles mosquito bites an infected person and then bites others, spreading the virus.
Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches and fatigue. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea are also possible.