KINGSTON, Jamaica — Some 42 students at the Troy Primary School in Trelawny have been diagnosed with dengue fever in the last two weeks, even as health officials assure the country that they are working to reduce the number of cases in the island.
Principal of the school, Clayton Collins, told the Jamaica Observer during a visit to the school last Thursday that the students had to be taken to the hospital after having nose bleeds and complaining of joint pains and high fever. While some of those students have been treated and had returned to school, others, he pointed out were still at home recuperating.
“Right now I think three are still in the hospital,” he said, then.
Dengue fever is spread when an Aedes Aegypti mosquito bites an infected person, then bites others. Symptoms of the disease include joint and muscle pain, pain behind the eyes, weakness, fever, rash and mild bleeding of the nose.
“What we have done is that we have invited the health personnel from Trelawny and they came in and spoke with the parents yesterday and sensitise them as to what they should do and not do to alleviate the problem,” he said.
Health officials had also previously visited the school to speak to the students and fogged the community in an effort to destroy breeding sites. The school is situated near a body of water, which is suspected to be behind the outbreak at the institution.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health said it has increased its mosquito control activities in an effort to decrease the number of dengue fever cases in the island.
According to official reports, there have been 663 “suspected” cases of the disease up to September 15, whereas there were 887 cases reported for all of last year.
In a release to the media last week, Dr Beverley Wright, acting regional technical director at the Southern Regional Health Authority pointed out that public hospitals in the region have been seeing an average of 10 patients daily who are suspected of having dengue. Of this number, seven are admitted or kept for observation, and samples from the tests are sent to the National Public Health Lab.
The health ministry has also noted that there has been an increase in dengue cases in Manchester, St Elizebeth and Clarendon. As such, approximately 162 of the 500 communities that are being targeted by the ministry for mosquito control interventions have already been fogged and community based education campaigns are currently underway to inform citizens about the disease.
“While the ministry continues to destroy breeding sites and adult mosquitoes in various communities, we urge members of the public to assist by looking around their homes and getting rid of anything in which mosquitoes can breed. Vases, old tyres, discarded cans, flower pots, barrels, drums and anything else that can store water can harbour mosquitoes,” said the ministry's Director of Health Promotion and Protection Dr Kevin Harvey.
Persons with symptoms of dengue fever should not take aspirin or any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. Instead, the ministry is urging those with symptoms of the disease to seek emergency care or visit the nearest hospital.