Advertisement
JIS News

The Ministry of Health continues to implement strategies for early detection and diagnosis of malaria, prompt treatment, vector control and public education, using an inter-sectoral approach.
This was stated by Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse, Director of Emergency Disaster Management and Special Services in the Ministry, when she addressed a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, yesterday (December 11).
She pointed out that to control and monitor the spread of malaria in a number of communities in Kingston, last weekend some 16 health teams were deployed to undertake major activities in the affected areas. The teams were bolstered by staff from St. Thomas, St. Catherine, Clarendon, Manchester, and St. Elizabeth, to carry out vector control.
Dr. Bullock DuCasse said an interesting exercise called the human landing count was done, where “persons sat for 30 minutes to observe if any mosquitoes were in the areas, because if you sit there, they will sense you and land on you. They went into Trench Town, Denham Town, and Tivoli in three areas in each of these three communities, for 30-minute periods. There were no landing of mosquitoes, meaning that the vector control programme has been very effective”.
She further informed that interviews were conducted in three communities. “For one of them, three of 30 persons reported a mosquito landing; in the other community, none of 30, and in the third community, none of 22. So we continue to monitor and assess the effectiveness of our vector control programme, because we need to ensure that we are treating very promptly with adequate and appropriate medication, those persons who are confirmed or suspected cases, while we do the vector control, so that the mosquitoes cannot become infected by biting persons who have the malaria parasite,” Dr. Bullock DuCasse outlined.
She added that another important arm of the Ministry’s work to deal with the malaria outbreak was public education through, among other things, house to house distribution of flyers with critical information. To date, more than 30,000 flyers have been disseminated to persons in the affected areas.
“We continue to ask for the support of the community members in assisting us to come forward if they have any of the signs and symptoms as we partner with our communities, churches and the private sector to control this outbreak,” Dr. Bullock DuCasse said.
She reported that the total number of confirmed cases of malaria was now 59, and noted that the two recent new cases came from the affected areas. To date there have been no deaths among the confirmed cases.
“We continue to do community activities, that is fever surveillance, to identify persons who might have had recent or intermittent fever or other signs or symptoms of malaria, who live in these defined areas, which are: Denham Town, Delacree Park, Rose Town, Tivoli Gardens, Whitfield Town, Trench Town, and Greenwich Farm. We do house to house surveys and persons who are found to be experiencing any of the symptoms, blood is taken from them for diagnosis in the laboratory,” Dr. Bullock DuCasse explained.
She said that aside from treatment in the hospital, the health teams were also carrying out treatment of these cases in the community. “We continued to work on the weekend, keeping health centres open in Kingston and St. Catherine. For the other parishes, where there are persons who we have confirmed as cases, and wherever they have been, we have also done intensive work there, including vector control,” she added.
As to the possible time frame for full control of the situation, Dr. Bullock DuCasse said that the incubation period for malaria had to be taken into consideration, and that new cases were anticipated up to the end of this week.
“The fact is we know that the incubation period, which is the time from infection by the mosquito bite until signs and symptoms occur, is between nine and 14 days. Therefore, while we started our activities at the beginning of December, there are persons who would have been infected before, who would become ill as long as 14 days after that. So, we expect to see new cases while we continue with our very intensive control activities,” she stated.
Dr. Bullock DuCasse disclosed that during the upcoming weekend, the team would be reassessing the situation; examining the cases, and “looking at those who might have been in contact and also making sure that the mosquito population is nil or close to that in those areas”.
“We are continuing to do house-to-house surveys and we search for mosquito breeding sites, destroy them and do fogging in the areas,” she said.
The Health Ministry has also called for a massive clean-up of the environment. “This will not only prevent the breeding of mosquitoes, but also rodents. We are also ensuring that we undertake an update of what we do, monitor the anopheles breeding sites; where in each parish we identify breeding is taking place, we map them, so that we can ensure that the populations of mosquitoes there are kept under control,” Dr. Bullock DuCasse said.