Westmoreland's risk for vector-borne diseases drops


Westmoreland's risk for vector-borne diseases drops

Saturday, January 23, 2021

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MEDICAL officer of health for Westmoreland Dr Marcia Graham says the Aedes index in the parish has decreased, reducing the risk for an outbreak of vector-borne diseases.

Dr Graham, who was addressing the recent monthly meeting of the Westmoreland Municipal Corporation in Savanna-la-Mar, said: “As at mid-December, our Aedes index was down to 4.8 per cent. Once you are below five per cent, then you significantly decrease the risk of having vector-borne diseases, so we are doing well.”

The Aedes index refers to the percentage of premises or homes in a limited, well-defined space, where actual breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquito is found and the total number of houses examined in that area.

“We are also in the period of the year when you have interruptions in water supply, you also have less rainfall and so safe storage of water has to be maintained if we are going to [keep] these indices low, [so] that we do not have to be worrying about dengue, gastroenteritis and other related diseases while we try to put an even bigger dent into COVID-19,” Dr Graham said.

She encouraged residents to employ preventative measures, such as installing mosquito nets over beds, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants outdoors, using mosquito repellant containing N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) on skin and clothing, closing windows before nightfall, opening windows during fogging and regularly changing water in animal and pet containers.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for the spread of the dengue fever, Zika and chikungunya viruses.

Symptoms of dengue include sudden onset of high fever with severe headache; fatigue; pain behind the eyes; muscle, bone or joint pain; skin rash; swollen glands; and vomiting or feeling nauseous.

Its more severe form called dengue haemorrhagic fever can also cause haemorrhaging, a sudden drop in blood pressure, and death.

People are encouraged to get treatment promptly when symptoms appear to prevent progression of the disease.

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