Dengue fear hits Kingston, St Catherine communities
RESIDENTS of some Corporate Area and St Catherine communities say poor conditions have led to an increase in the mosquito population, and are fearful of a possible dengue outbreak in their areas.
One such community is Seaview Gardens in Kingston, which is bordered by two gullies, both of which empty into Kingston Harbour. The gullies are polluted with all kinds of debris and stagnant water, making it a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Residents of the low-income community told the Jamaica Observer that mosquitoes have been making their lives hell.
“The mosquitoes are like an army; in the evenings we have to rush inside our homes and lock up tight. They are just as bad in the day. They bite right through your clothes and behave like we are invading their space. The situation is very bad and we are begging our member of parliament and councillor to do something,” Andre Wallace, a resident told the Observer.
During a visit yesterday to the community by the Observer, residents complained that despite visits to the polluted waterways by the political representatives nothing has been done to address their plight.
Thousands of plastic bottles, black plastic bags, used tyres, pieces of board, crocus bags with waste, and many other forms of garbage litter the gullies.
There was a heavy buzz of mosquitoes, despite the fact that it was only mid-morning. Two of the insects stung this reporter and left a reddish area at the points of contact.
The cry was the same from residents who live at Reid’s Pen and Aintree along the Old Braeton Road in Greater Portmore, St Catherine.
“These are not mosquitoes, because them big like wasps and them sting hot. Portmore is a place usually have a lot of mosquito, but this year them ‘tun up’. Them not romping,” one woman said.
At the same time, residents who live near gullies along Red Hills Road and Grant’s Pen in St Andrew, and in Eltham View and Gordon Pen on the outskirts of Spanish Town, St Catherine, were just as wary of the threat of the vector-borne disease.
The health ministry said yesterday that it had embarked on an intensified integrated dengue control response.
“With the weekly monitoring being done by the National Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health and the Virology Reference Lab at the University of the West Indies indicating a rapid increase in both the clinically suspected cases of dengue and laboratory confirmed cases respectively, the ministry has intensified its integrated dengue control response,” a release from the ministry said.
The ministry, which last Thursday declared a dengue outbreak, has set up an Emergency Operating Centre in downtown Kingston and intensified vector control field activities.
It said, too, that patient care services have been organised to minimise dengue-related illnesses and death. In addition, the ministry said it has enhanced daily surveillance reporting from the health facilities and embarked on a public education drive.
Over the past two weeks there have been efforts to increase the awareness about the increase of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which carries the dengue virus, while all parishes have been engaged in vector control activities, with priority given to communities with confirmed dengue cases.
“Intense mosquito control activities were conducted this past weekend, particularly in Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine and Manchester. The Ministry of Health will be focusing on areas such as informal settlements and communities where cases have been identified,” the ministry said.
Members of the public have, in the meantime, been urged to get rid of old tyres and containers in which water can settle and breed mosquitos. Individuals were also asked to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using mosquito nets, and applying insect repellents containing deet.
Persons with severe symptoms of dengue, dengue hemorrhagic fever and dengue shock syndrome must seek immediate medical attention and avoid taking aspirin or any other anti-inflammatory drug such as Ibuprofen. Severe symptoms of dengue include continuous pain, cold and clammy skin, bleeding from the nose, mouth and/or gums, skin bruises, frequent vomiting, difficulty breathing and fainting.