JIS News

Following the passage of Tropical Storm Gustav, which recently ravaged sections of the island, Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sheila Forrester, is urging Jamaicans to continue to adhere to health and safety practices, in order to prevent a potential outbreak of vector borne illnesses and other infectious diseases.
“One of the important diseases we are trying to prevent is leptospirosis,” Dr. Forrester told JIS News, as she cautioned citizens to desist from having unnecessary contact with pools of stagnant water, as was the observed trend shortly after the passage of the storm.
“Try not to wade and walk through these pools of water, as they may be contaminated with animal urine such as of rats for instance, and that can cause serious diseases,” she warned. She said that the risk of disease and infection that may result from contact with this type of water is very high and the water may not only be contaminated by animal urine but with the faeces of infected persons or animals as well.
“During the flooding some toilets and septic tanks would have been washed out and there are some diseases such as typhoid and diarrhoeal diseases that can be spread in this manner. It is therefore, very important, that we try to avoid contaminated water and make sure that the water we are consuming is safe,” Dr. Forrester stated.
She said that the Ministry will be putting out notices, using a range of media, to appeal to Jamaicans to avoid walking in these pools of water. If contact is unavoidable, she is asking that citizens wear protective gear such as water boots.
The Health Ministry’s Chief Medical Officer, is also recommending that citizens report broken water mains to the relevant authorities. Stagnant water, she said, tends to abound where there are broken mains, and until these are rectified, pools of stagnant water will persist.
“For those puddles that may remain, one would have to oil them to prevent mosquitoes from breeding there, because mosquitoes breed in water and some of them do breed in stagnant water, so the oiling is important,” she stressed as she announced plans by the Ministry of Health, to increase vector control operations in order to prevent an increase in the mosquito index.
Reiterating the need for safe clean water, Dr. Forrester stated, “it is important to make your water safe as we have to use that treated water for not only drinking but washing the fruits and vegetables, making drinks, preparing foods, making ice and washing dishes.”
“The water that is used to brush your teeth, it is important for that water to be safe,” she added.
Additionally, to ensure the safety of the water consumed, she offered water treatment tips, such as boiling water and properly treating it with bleach. “You need to read the labels so they can use the right amount of bleach that will kill bacteria,” she recommended.