Minister of Health Minister, Hon. Rudyard Spencer, is urging the public to co-operate with Ministry’s health workers involved in vector control and other activities associated with the elimination of Dengue Fever.
Minister of Health, the Hon Rudyard Spencer, speaking at Tuesday’s (August 3) press briefing on Dengue hosted by his Ministry at Jamaica House.
He said that particularly important was that, during fogging exercises, residents open doors and windows so that mosquitoes in the homes can be eliminated.
As a precautionary measure, he has encouraged persons to ensure that water storage containers are covered, as they are found to be major breeding sites for mosquitoes. He has also asked persons to cover other containers in which water can settle, to keep them dry, clean them regularly, fill them with soil or sand, punch holes them or dispose of them.
“Persons should avoid being bitten by mosquitoes by using insect repellent, mosquito nets, mosquito destroyers or putting screens on windows and doors. Make sure that children wear protective clothing, such as socks, long sleeved shirts, or blouses and long pants,” Mr. Spencer said.
He was speaking at a press conference at Jamaica House Tuesday (August 3), to discuss the Ministry’s Dengue Fever preparedness and vector control activities.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester (right), makes a point during a press conference at Jamaica House Tuesday (August 3) to discuss the Ministry’s Dengue Fever preparedness and vector control activities. At right is Minister of Health, Hon. Rudyard Spencer.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO), Dr. Sheila Campbell Forrester, encouraged the public to seek medical attention, once they have identified symptoms, or think they have been infected with Dengue, particularly in its more severe forms – Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever or Dengue Shock Syndrome.
“We are appealing to members of the public, not to wait until your symptoms become severe. If you…have any reason to believe you, or a family member, may have Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever or Dengue Shock Syndrome, you…need to go to your nearest hospital,” the CMO said.
Dr. Campbell-Forrester said that persons have been complaining of Dengue-like illnesses islandwide, but assured that the Ministry’s health team was equipped to manage cases and was on the alert for signs and symptoms of the illness.
She pointed out that Dengue is a viral infection transmitted by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito. There are four types of the virus – of which types one, two and four are currently in circulation in the Caribbean region.
As of July 24, there have been 77 laboratory cases of Dengue in Jamaica, while there have been seven confirmed cases of Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever. Additionally, all parishes have reported experiencing increased cases of Dengue Fever, since the start of the year. However, there have been no confirmed laboratory cases for Trelawny, St. Thomas and Westmoreland.
Dr. Campbell-Forrester also informed that, when infected with the Dengue Virus, persons may develop Dengue Fever, it may continue to Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever or to the Dengue Shock Syndrome, the latter two being the more severe forms of the disease that can lead to death.
“Children, as well as adults, who had Dengue before, are more at risk of getting Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever and Dengue Shock Syndrome,” she cautioned.
Common symptoms of Dengue Fever include: sudden onset of high fever with severe headache; pain behind the eyes; muscle pain; backache; bone or joint pain; skin rash; and vomiting or feeling nauseous.
The CMO advised that persons who have two or more of these symptoms may have been infected with the Dengue virus, pointing out that most cases are mild and may go undetected.
In terms of Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever, Dr. Campbell-Forrester noted that the infected person may have all the symptoms of Dengue, in addition to severe and continuous stomach pains; pale, cold, clammy skin; bleeding from the nose, mouth or gums; skin bruising; frequent vomiting (with or without blood); difficulty breathing; and fainting.
“The complications usually start after the fever begins to go down. In severe cases, persons may go into shock because of the bleeding, and this is called Dengue Shock Syndrome,” she informed. This is similar to Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever, but with circulatory failure, meaning failure of the heart and blood vessels, as evidenced by rapid or weak pulse, cold, clammy skin and confusion or disorientation.
The CMO noted also that though cases of Dengue Fever may be managed at home with pain relief medication, fluids and rest, it is especially important for persons not to take any medication that contains salicylic acid, such as aspirin, as this promotes bleeding.
Dengue Haemorrhagic Fever and Dengue Shock Syndrome, on the other hand, must be managed at the hospital.
She said that while there is no drug or cure for Dengue, or currently recognised vaccine to prevent it, efforts can be made to reduce the population of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito by ridding the environment of possible breeding sites for these insects.
“Prevention and control measures cannot be successfully undertaken by the Ministry of Health only, individuals will have to play a role to ensure that their environment is free of breeding sites for mosquitoes,” the CMO said.