THE health ministry has increased its mosquito control activities as it moves to decrease the number of dengue fever cases across the country.
The ministry, in a statement, said the country has recorded 663 'suspected' cases of dengue fever up to September 15. The comparative figure for the same period last year was not immediately available, but the ministry said 887 cases were reported for all of 2011.
Yesterday, Dr Beverley Wright, acting regional technical director at the Southern Regional Health Authority, said the number of dengue cases being reported in the parishes of Manchester, St Elizabeth and Clarendon has increased. She said public hospitals in the region have been seeing an average of 10 patients daily who are suspected of having dengue, of which seven are admitted or kept for observation. Samples from the tests are sent to the National Public Health Lab.
The increased mosquito control activities being carried out include fogging and source reduction — treatment and destruction of breeding sites. This has already taken place in 162 communities across the island since the ministry started its intensified programme a week ago. Approximately 500 communities have been scheduled to be fogged under the programme, while there will be community-based education programmes to information citizens how to destroy mosquito breeding sites.
The ministry's Director of Health Promotion and Protection Dr Kevin Harvey said the intensified activities will continue for at least the next three weeks. "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," he said.
Dengue fever is spread when an Aedes Aegypti mosquito bites an infected person and then bites others, the ministry said.
Symptoms of dengue fever 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.
Persons with symptoms of dengue fever should not take aspirin nor any other non- steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
According to the Ministry of Health, figures from the Pan American Health Organisation show that from 2001 to 2012 more than 31 countries in the Americas have seen a total of 9,847,209 cases of dengue. Central American and Caribbean countries are among those that presented the highest incidence rate during this period.
Dengue in Jamaica is usually seasonal with increase in cases occurring after the rainy season or from September to March.