THE Ministry of Health issued a release yesterday in which it warned that an expected increase in the mosquito population is imminent and urged people to destroy mosquito breeding sites as a means of controlling the insects.
The increase it said, is due to the recent spate of rains the island has experienced.
"More mosquitoes could raise the possibility of the spread of vector-borne diseases such as dengue, which is endemic to Jamaica, and chikungunya, which has been detected in other Caribbean islands," the ministry said, quoting Director of Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse.
"Dengue and chikungunya are only transmitted through the bite of an infected aedes aegypti mosquito which is generally found in and around places where people live. Individuals should therefore ensure that there are no opportunities for mosquitoes to breed in their surroundings," the release said.
To date, no cases of chikugunya have been identified in Jamaica.
"We're asking everyone in households, schools, businesses, places of worship and other places where people gather to look for and destroy mosquito breeding sites. This is important for the reduction of the mosquito population, which in turn can stem the spread of vector-borne diseases," DuCasse continued.
Mosquito breeding sites include anywhere that water can settle or where water is stored.
The ministry is advising that water containers such as drums and water tanks should be kept tightly covered or otherwise kept dry. Vases should be cleaned frequently or filled with soil or sand and old tyres should be filled with dirt. Also, holes should be punched into cans before disposal.
"The Ministry of Health has maintained strategies under its vector control programme to reduce the mosquito population while the country continues to make preparations in the event that Chikungunya reaches the island," the release said.