THE Ministry of Health yesterday appealed to Jamaicans to assist in destroying mosquito breeding sites around their homes as it fights to reduce the growing number of dengue cases across the island.
The ministry, meanwhile, said it has heightened its surveillance of dengue fever and has been carrying out increased mosquito control activities, including community-based education and promotion, fogging and source reduction -- treatment and destruction of breeding sites.
Director of Health Promotion and Protection Dr Kevin Harvey said the intensified activities would be continuing, but stressed that the support of householders was needed to comprehensively combat the breeding of mosquitoes that cause dengue fever.
"Although numerous activities are being carried out by the ministry, we cannot make any meaningful dent in controlling the breeding of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito that causes dengue if persons do not assist. We ask that householders, in particular, seek out and destroy mosquito breeding sites. Vases, old tyres, discarded cans, flower pots, barrels, drums, and anything else that can store water can harbour mosquitoes," he said.
The country has recorded an increase in the number of cases of dengue fever since the start of the year, with the ministry reporting 974 suspected cases, as at September 22, 2012, compared to 887 for all of 2011 and 3,202 in 2010 when there was an outbreak.
Kingston and St Andrew has recorded the most cases so far with 480, followed by Manchester with 101, Clarendon with 78, St Ann with 63, and St Catherine with 50. The least affected parish is St Thomas, which has reported four cases.
There has been one confirmed dengue-related death so far this year, the health ministry said.
Dengue fever is spread when an Aedes Aegypti mosquito bites an infected person and then bites others. Symptoms include pain behind the eyes, joint and muscle pain, weakness, fever, and possibly a rash.
"If you have any of these symptoms and notice any signs of bleeding or severe abdominal pain, worsening weakness, difficulty in breathing or fainting and pale, cold or clammy skin, seek emergency care at the nearest hospital," the ministry said yesterday.
Persons with symptoms of dengue fever should not take aspirin nor any other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.