Acting Chief Public Health Inspector for St. James, Sherika Lewis, says rigorous vector-control activities are continuing across the parish, in order to stem the spread of the dengue fever.
According to Ms. Lewis, the parish’s mosquito Aedes index jumped to 11.5 per cent in August, an increase over previous months, which means that more breeding sites were identified in August.
The Aedes index refers to the percentage of premises or homes in a limited, well-defined space, where actual breeding of Aedes aegypti is found and the total number of houses examined in that area.
Speaking at the monthly meeting of the St. James Municipal Corporation in Montego Bay, Thursday, September 10, Ms. Lewis informed that during the month of August, 14,000 premises across 151 communities were inspected, with Aedes aegypti breeding sites discovered at 1,600 properties.
Ms. Lewis noted that fogging activities were conducted in 34 communities across the parish.
She added that the ongoing Task Worker vector-control programme has been helping to boost the Health Department’s vector-control efforts.
“We currently have been embarking on the Task Worker vector-control programme and we have maintained 93 such workers. There was a recent commitment by [Health and Wellness Minister] Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton to continue this programme, which will culminate on October 2. Under this programme we had this success,” Ms. Lewis noted.
In the meantime, Acting Medical Officer of Health for St. James, Dr. Francine Phillips-Kelly, who also addressed the meeting, reminded the public that dengue fever remains a threat, as the virus is endemic to Jamaica.
In that regard, she said the Health Department remains vigilant in the fight against the virus and continues to raise awareness among residents about the importance of eradicating mosquito infestation in their communities.
“Dengue fever is still around and will be around, but we have not been seeing the numbers, which we would have been seeing last year January (2019) coming into this year (2020). We have declared that the epidemic is over, but we still maintain a vigilance and we are still in our communities educating and maintaining the Aedes indices at a lower level. The lower the index, then the lower the possibility of the disease spreading and the lower the risk to life,” she said.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for the spread of the dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya viruses.
Symptoms of dengue include sudden onset of high fever with severe headache, fatigue, pain behind the eyes, muscle, bone or joint pain, skin rash and vomiting or feeling nauseous.