JIS News

The Clarendon Health Department will be carrying out baiting exercises as part of its rat disinfestation programme, which is aimed at tackling an outbreak of leptospirosis in the parish.
Since the start of November at least four persons in the parish have died from the disease. The disinfestation programme commenced last weekend (November 12 to 13) with a major clean- up campaign in several areas of the parish.
Chief Public Health Inspector at the Clarendon Health Department, Vernon Webster told JIS News yesterday (November 15) that baiting would commence by tomorrow (November 17) in targeted areas including May Pen, Chapelton and some communities in the North including the Spaulding area.
“We’re actually in preparation for setting of baits and we’re working with the communities and businesses to get this done. The baiting will be carried out in three phases where we will conduct an evaluation after each phase to help to determine how and where the next phase takes place,” he said.
Emphasizing that the disinfestation programme was a costly one, which required careful allocation of resources, he said that the baiting process was to be completed within three weeks to one month.
“We’re also expecting that we will require fewer and fewer baits as we come down to the third phase of the baiting,” he said.
Mr. Webster pointed out also that the clean-up exercise was critical to commence the process of rat disinfestation, as once this was done, there would be need for less baiting.
Medical Officer of Health at the Department, Dr. Sonia Copeland also emphasized the importance of the clean-up campaign.
“You have to clean up first, once there is an abundance of food, then the rats won’t take your bait so you have to clean,” Dr. Copeland told JIS News. She noted that the campaign was being carried out in collaboration with the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and the Parish Council.The clean-up began in earnest in the Sandy Bay, Hayes, Lionel Town, and other communities with May Pen being cleaned on Sunday.
This process she said involved the removal of garbage from several communities where residents were asked to compile their garbage and leave it outside for collection.
In addition garbage was removed from several illegal dumping sites and large objects such as refrigerators and derelict vehicles were also removed. “Once we started moving these objects we really saw a lot of rats,” she stated.
Similar clean-up exercises, she said, would be rolled out in other areas of the parish in the coming weeks based on the cues received from the areas where outbreaks have occurred. Target areas she mentioned would also include markets which may be heavily infested.
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. In humans it causes a wide range of symptoms, and some infected persons may have no symptoms at all. Symptoms of leptospirosis include high fever, severe headache, chills, muscle aches, and vomiting, and may include jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), red eyes, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, or a rash. In some cases the disease may be fatal.
Outbreaks are usually caused by exposure to water, food or soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals. Several different kinds of animals carry the bacterium. These include rodents, cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, and wild animals.