The new Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Winston De La Haye has been on several radio programs in the past week, giving out information on behalf of his Ministry and keeping people up to date. We welcome this new transparency and availability. A new press release came out today – this time, it’s a dengue fever alert. Here’s some additional useful information: In the three weeks up to February 16, a total of 161 samples have been sent to CARPHA in Trinidad for testing. Out of these, there were no further Zik V positive samples, one chik v positive, and 43 negatives. It seems that dengue fever (which, believe me, is no joke!) is a real concern. And soon the samples won’t have to be sent to the other side of the Caribbean; Dr. De La Haye says the lab facility at the University Hospital of the West Indies is very near completion, to facilitate local testing.
Meanwhile, kudos and thanks to Food for the Poor, which has donated 19 portable fogging machines to bolster its fight against the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses. It also donated 6,000 bottles of paracetamol tablets.
Here is today’s press release from the Ministry:
Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Winston De La Haye is alerting the public to a higher than usual number of cases of dengue being detected by the Ministry of Health at this time.
As at the week ending February 20, 2016, there were 23 cases of dengue diagnosed resulting from our increased active surveillance for the zika virus (ZIKV).
Dengue is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits chikungunya and ZIKV. Symptoms include pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, weakness, fever and possibly a rash.
Persons are urged to protect themselves from mosquito bites even if they are experiencing symptoms so that they prevent transmission to their family members. You can do this by using repellent containing DEET, wearing long sleeved clothing as much as possible, sleeping under a mosquito net and meshing windows and doors to prevent mosquitoes from entering the home.
It is also important to ensure that there is little opportunity for mosquitoes to breed. Despite the efforts over the last few months several communities still have high levels of mosquito breeding.
The Ministry of Health is calling on residents to take action by destroying mosquito breeding sites. Persons can destroy mosquito breeding sites by looking for anything around the home, school, churches and business places that may collect water and either cover it, keep it dry or dispose of it. Repair leaking pipes and outdoor faucets, cut the grass short and trim shrubbery, clear roof gutters and eaves to prevent water from settling and fill in and drain any low places in the yard such as areas where there are usually puddles when it rains.
Residents are also being encouraged to join the Ministry of Health and its stakeholders for the National Cleanup Day today (February 20, 2016) dubbed “Operation: Mosquito Search and Destroy”. The team will start in Old Braeton then to Reid’s Pen in Portmore then move to Rivoli in Spanish Town, St. Catherine.
There is to date one case of Zika confirmed in the island.
Individuals who wish to obtain more information may call the Ministry of Health or the nearest health centre. Persons may also visit our website at http://moh.gov.jm and like and follow us on http://www.facebook.com/themohgovjm; on Twitter at https://twitter.com/themohgovjm; and on Instagram at https://instagram.com/themohgovjm.