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    Medical Officer of Health for Westmoreland, Dr. Marcia Graham, is imploring citizens not to use antibiotics to treat viral illnesses such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) and influenza (flu), as doing so could make the body antibiotic resistant.

    She was addressing the monthly meeting of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation at the entity’s location in Savanna-la-Mar on November 12.

    “Influenza and COVID-19 are caused by viruses, and from time to time in the medical fraternity we have persons coming to us demanding antibiotics for the treatment of viral illnesses. This will result in antibiotic-resistance, and when you really need to use antibiotics they will be of no use,” Dr. Graham pointed out.

    “We need to ensure that we safely and appropriately use antibiotics, so that we do not develop resistance that will put us in a bad place when we have the need to use them in the future,” she stressed.

    Jamaica will observe World Antibiotic Awareness Week from November 18 to November 24.

    Turning to dengue fever, Dr. Graham noted that suspected case notifications of the virus in the parish have been on the decline.

    “This year, we are in a much better place than we were last year. We have had, so far, 225 notifications for suspected dengue cases up to the end of October, compared to 680 a year ago. So we have trended down in terms of dengue. However, it is raining so the threat is real and continued vigilance is important,” she noted.

    “Every citizen out there, you need to make sure that you do weekly mosquito search and destroy operations, destroy breeding sites, do not allow mosquitos to breed in your environment. We ask that you protect yourself also from mosquito bites if you already have adult mosquitos in the area,” she urged.

    Dr. Graham said that the Westmoreland Public Health Department continues to publicise its fogging schedule, but noted that rainfall may at times hamper fogging and other mosquito control activities.

    The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for the spread of the dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya viruses.

    To prevent dengue fever, persons are advised to eliminate mosquito breeding sites by getting rid of items that collect water (old drums, used tyres and plastic containers); install mosquito nets over beds; wear long-sleeve shirts and pants outdoors; use DEET (mosquito repellant); and regularly change water in animal and pet containers.

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