KINGSTON – Jamaica is reporting a significant decline in the number of cases of dengue with health officials saying that the campaign to eradicate the mosquito responsible for the spread of the disease.
Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton told Parliament that: “At the peak of the outbreak in January this year, we had 1 943 cases. There has since been a significant fall in cases, with June 2019 having 124 cases to date.”
Figures show that as at July 22 this year, there were 4 930 suspected, presumed or confirmed dengue cases. Of the total, there were 1 057 cases with dates of onset in 2018 and 3 873 with dates going back to the previous year.
Tufton told legislators that there would be an increase in the breeding of mosquitoes during the summer months, including those that carry the dengue virus and that during the first few weeks of July, the authorities have stepped up their activities under the Enhanced Vector Control programme.
He said these include a comprehensive public education and media campaign, home inspections and destruction of breeding sites by 1 000 temporary vector control workers, and island wide fogging by parish health departments.
But Tufton said that citizens have an important role to play in the control of mosquito-borne diseases by keeping their surroundings free of debris; destroying or treating potential mosquito breeding sites; wearing protective clothing; using a DEET-containing mosquito repellent; and, as much as possible, staying indoors with their windows and doors closed.
He said that dengue can be mistaken for other viral illnesses, and recommended that members of the public avoid the use of aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen or any of the medications/pain relievers known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
“These drugs, when used to treat the fever in dengue, have been known to increase the severity of the disease. We, therefore, ask that the public use paracetamol or acetaminophen for fever and pain control.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) said that dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease that has rapidly spread in all regions in recent years. Dengue virus is transmitted by female mosquitoes mainly of the species Aedes aegypti.
This mosquito also transmits chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika infection. (CMC)