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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • An extensive public education campaign on how to combat mosquito-borne diseases, in particular the dreaded Chikungunya virus, is currently underway in Westmoreland.
  • The campaign is being spearheaded by the Westmoreland Parish Council in collaboration with the Public Health Department.
  • The council, over the years, has partnered with the Public Health Department to reduce the mosquito population as it seeks to protect citizens from various insect-borne diseases and infections.

An extensive public education campaign on how to combat mosquito-borne diseases, in particular the dreaded Chikungunya virus, is currently underway in Westmoreland.

The campaign is being spearheaded by the Westmoreland Parish Council in collaboration with the Public Health Department, and is being carried out in schools, churches, youth clubs and other community groupings.

Westmoreland’s Deputy Mayor, Councillor Danree Delancy, told JIS News that both entities are engaged in an ongoing programme of sensitising householders on proper water-storage practices, in an effort to prevent the rapid breeding of mosquitoes.

“I believe that as a parish, we are on the way to educating our people and this is really a work in progress,” the Deputy Mayor pointed out.

He informed that the council, over the years, has partnered with the Public Health Department to reduce the mosquito population as it seeks to protect citizens from various insect-borne diseases and infections.

Chief Public Health Inspector of Westmoreland, Steve Morris, said Jamaica, like other Caribbean countries, is under threat from the Chikungunya disease.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Chikungunya is a viral disease transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes. It causes fever and severe joint pain. Other symptoms include muscle pain, headache, nausea, fatigue and rash.  The disease shares some clinical signs with dengue, and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common. There is no cure for the disease but it can be treated.

“Other Caribbean countries have recorded confirmed cases of this dreaded disease which is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes … The Ministry of Health has already allocated some funds for us to carry out activities to alleviate the possibilities of this disease ever getting into our country and spreading to affect citizens,” Mr. Morris told JIS News.

He informed that the Public Health Department has just completed a rapid Aedes survey which has shown indexes from zero to a high of 61 per cent in some communities, where water is being stored in various containers.

“Our biggest challenge is with many residents who feel that if mosquito larvae are present in the water, it means that the water is good and not ‘poisoned’.  It is an uphill struggle to get citizens to prevent mosquitoes from breeding, as if the disease get here, we are going to have outbreaks, unless people change the way they store their water.  If we can control dengue then we can control the threat of this Chikungunya disease,”

Mr. Morris asserted.

He added that the education programme is now being intensified and urged residents to do their part in helping to prevent this dreaded disease from infecting Jamaica.