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JIS News

Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse, Director of Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services at the Ministry of Health stressed yesterday (December 7), that the malaria disease was not spreading.
In an interview with JIS News, Dr. Bullock DuCasse explained that the increasing number of confirmed cases was due to the incubation period of malaria, which is between 9 and 14 days. “It means that from the person is bitten by the infected mosquito until he or she actually starts to feel ill and display the signs and symptoms this is 14-day period, so while we started the measures, we still expect that we will continue to see persons who were infected before this, becoming ill over the next 14-day period,” she explained.
“What is actually happening is that the Ministry is seeing an expected increase in the number of cases, as we continue our control measures, which include prompt case identification and treatment,” she clarified. Dr. Bullock DuCasse said that health teams are looking for persons who might have symptoms, which are fever, on and off fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and chills. “When we identify these persons we take blood samples to ensure that we can confirm the diagnosis. We are expecting an increase in the numbers, because we are actively finding them and we are diagnosing them,” she said.
“We continue to go into households in a one kilometre radius of all confirmed cases. The Ministry of Health wishes to inform the public that the increases in the number of cases that we seeing now are expected, even though we are taking very intensive control measures in terms of vector control,” Dr. Bullock DuCasse emphasized. She pointed out that there was no need for Jamaicans to take any drugs for malaria except those that “we have confirmed, and we treat them as health professionals”.
“This has been confirmed with the experts from the Pan American Health Organisation that we are using the right approach. There is also no need for persons who are travelling to Jamaica to take prophylaxis or any medication. This is the firm recommendation from the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation experts,” she added.
Dr. Bullock DuCasse stressed that Jamaicans who were travelling overseas to countries where malaria was endemic or where malaria was spreading, they should go to their doctors or nearest health departments and ensure that they get the prophylaxis.
“We urge patients and travellers to take the tablets as recommended by the health ministry. Other countries can make recommendations, but scientifically and technically, all of the expert advice is that there is no need for Jamaicans to be treated unless there are confirmed or suspected cases. There is also no need for persons travelling to Jamaica, to take the prophylaxis,” she said.
Dr. Bullock DuCasse said that the Ministry would continue to protect the Jamaican public from the disease by ensuring and reminding the public that they must check with their health professionals to take tablets if they go to countries where malaria was spreading.
“It protects them individually and it also protects the country when they return, because they would remain malaria free,” she informed.
Dr. Bullock DuCasse said she was encouraging persons to protect and prevent themselves from getting mosquito bites. “We know that this mosquito, the female Anopheles mosquito bites between early evening, nightfall and until dawn in the morning. Therefore, we ask persons to remain indoors as much as possible, wear long sleeve clothes, wear pants and socks to protect their skins,” she added. She urged that persons should use insect repellent with the chemical called DEET for areas of the body that are exposed.
“We also say to our population in the affected areas, that while we continue to work with you, we ask that you do not have any mass gatherings. The communities have been very co-operative. This measure is only for the affected areas of Delacree Park, Denham Town, Trench Town and Tivoli Gardens,” Dr. Bullock DuCasse said.
She stressed that the tourist industry had nothing to fear as there was no risk there, due to the confined nature of this disease and the fact that the Ministry was taking other control measures, including vector control.
“We are doing what we call knocking down the adult mosquitoes, which can transmit the disease. Meaning that we spray and we fog. We also are on an intensive programme of identifying breeding sites, and in and around the affected areas we have already found 10 major breeding sites and destroyed them. We are also oiling drains and we will continue to fog,” Dr. Bullock DuCasse said.
Jamaica was officially declared malaria-free in 1965 and has not had an endemic spread of this disease since then.
The Ministry has established a hotline for persons who wish to contact them. This number is 1-888-663-5683, and for persons who wish to report breeding sites of mosquitoes to the Ministry, they can call the following numbers 967-1275, 354-0328 between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Persons can also call the Ministry of Health’s phone numbers: 967-1100 or 967-1110.