JIS News

Director of Environmental Health in the Ministry of Health, William Broughton, is reminding persons to remain vigilant to prevent a possible outbreak of dengue fever.
Speaking with JIS News, Mr. Broughton said that community action will be integral to successfully preventing an outbreak of the virus in Jamaica and called for persons to become inspectors of their own environs in order to detect and destroy all possible mosquito breeding sites.
Outlining key preventive measures, he advised persons to keep house plants in damp soil instead of water, avoid over-watering potted plants and to keep flower pot saucers dry. He also asked that persons keep grass short and shrubbery well trimmed in order to reduce havens for adult mosquitoes.
“Anywhere in and around the house where water can settle, mosquitoes will lay their eggs and breed, so we are asking for everyone to be their own inspector to search for these areas and destroy these breeding places,” he pointed out.
In addition, Mr. Broughton urged persons to cover all trash containers, ensure that all drums, barrels and other containers used to store water are properly closed. “Also, around the house, you may have old tyres, tins, bottles, coconut shells and anything in which rain water can settle, we are asking you to keep them out of the rain so that they do not store water,” he said.
Persons are also asked to keep drains and ditches clear of weeds and trash to allow for water to flow freely, and to scout their communities for possible breeding sites and inform the relevant authorities so that these areas can be cleaned.
Mr. Broughton said that the Ministry will be relying heavily on the assistance of agencies such as the National Water Commission, the Parish Councils, the National Solid Waste Management Agency (NSWMA) and the Social Development Commission (SDC) to clean and oil drains, and to educate persons about dengue prevention measures.
The Ministry of Health remains on high alert for cases of dengue fever, following an outbreak and reported dengue-related deaths in two neighbouring Caribbean territories.
Public education activities have been ramped up, with Vector Control Officers visiting communities and health centres in all parishes to advise persons about the threat. Fliers and other educational material on preventing the breeding of mosquitoes are distributed at each session.
Mr. Broughton told JIS News that the Ministry has been distributing insectides, oil and other vital resources to residents, while fogging is also being done.
He said that surveillance activities at the port of entry have been strengthened. He explained that aircrafts are routinely sprayed to ensure that they are free of mosquitoes. “They are not sprayed everytime and if mosquitoes should get in there the residual spraying should get rid of them,” he told JIS News.
“Internationally the mosquito index should be zero at our ports of entry as people from all over the world come to our ports, especially our airports. So, we ensure that the staff there under the airport management gets rid of all possible mosquioto breeding places,” he added.
Dengue Fever is caused by a virus spread by the aedes aegypti mosquito.
The Health Ministry is currently reviewing surveillance data to ascertain whether confirmed cases of dengue are above the endemic level.
Director, Disease Prevention and Control, Dr. Sonia Copeland, informed that Jamaica has confirmed cases of dengue fever every year. “Once the number goes above the endemic level then we are at risk to having an epidemic,” she explained.

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