The Government is taking measures to contain the number of dengue cases and to control the breeding of the disease-causing Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, told JIS News that a joined-up government approach is being employed involving several ministries.
"I have brought together the Minister of Local Government (Hon. Noel Arscott), myself, State Minister Richard Azan from the Ministry of Transport and Works, as well as Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries (Hon. Roger Clarke) in dealing with dengue," he said.
Focus is being placed on fogging and source reduction, including treatment and destruction of breeding sites, and community-based education. Surveillance for dengue fever has also been heightened.
The Minister is imploring Jamaicans to assist in destroying mosquito breeding sites around their homes. “We are appealing to householders to take precautions as the mosquito that causes dengue is a domesticated mosquito, which gets into homes by way of containers left with water,” he stated.
Dengue fever is spread when the Aedes Aegypti mosquito bites an infected person and then bites others.
The disease is endemic to Jamaica and from time-to-time there is a seasonal increase in the number of reported cases. This is usually during the rainy periods, which typically leads to an increase in mosquito breeding sites.
The Ministry of Health has reported 974 suspected cases at the end of September with 344 confirmed, compared to 346 suspected cases with 191 confirmed for the same period last year.
In 2010, when there was an outbreak of the disease, over 1,100 cases were reported for the month of August alone, and more than 3,000 cases overall for that year.
Kingston and St Andrew has recorded the most cases so far with 480, followed by Manchester with 101, Clarendon with 78, St Ann with 63, and St Catherine with 50. The least affected parish is St Thomas, which has reported four cases.
There has been one confirmed dengue-related death so far this year, the Ministry said.
Symptoms of dengue include high fever with severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle pain, bone or joint pain, weakness, vomiting or feeling nauseous and possibly a rash.
Persons with any of these symptoms, signs of bleeding or severe abdominal pain, worsening weakness, difficulty in breathing, fainting, or pale, cold or clammy skin, should seek emergency care at the nearest hospital.
Persons with symptoms of dengue fever should not take aspirin nor any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, as this could lead to bleeding.