RAIN, RAIN AND DENGUE
IT wouldn’t be the hurricane season without rain, and that comes with a threat — dengue fever.
And as the island experiences increased rainfall, the Ministry of Health and Wellness is reminding Jamaicans to expect an increase in the breeding of mosquitoes, especially disease-carrying types such as the Aedes aegypti that transmits dengue.
The Atlantic hurricane season started on June 1 and will continue until November 30, 2023.
Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie, Jamaica’s chief medical officer (CMO), noted that members of the public have a role to play in preventing a possible increase in the transmission of dengue.
Bisasor-McKenzie urged individuals to be active in “searching for and destroying all potential mosquito breeding sites in and around their surroundings”.
She said Jamaica’s high dengue transmission period coincides with the hurricane season annually, as is the case with the rest of the Caribbean.
“In anticipation of that the ministry will activate an enhanced public education programme, home inspections, and the destruction of breeding sites by vector control workers, and [will implement] islandwide fogging by the parish health departments.”
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted a “near normal” hurricane season, with 12 to 17 named storms packing winds of at least 39 mph (63 kph). Of those, five to nine could become hurricanes, with one to four developing into major hurricanes.
Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year, up to 400 million people are infected by the dengue virus and approximately 100 million people get sick from infection — with 40,000 dying from severe dengue.
In a release on April 17, 2023 the CDC cautioned travellers to protect themselves from contracting the dengue disease as cases trend upwards in four Caribbean countries.
The CDC listed Cuba, the Dominica Republic, as well as French Caribbean territories Guadeloupe and Martinique.
The Aedes aegypti mosquito breeds in any containerised environment — that is, anything that can hold water.
Some of the common breeding sites for the Aedes aegypti mosquito are drums, tyres, buckets, and animal feeding containers.
Last month, health promotion and education officer Gerald Miller said the Westmoreland Public Health Department would be increasing its efforts to educate citizens about how to avoid contracting the virus.
During last Thursday’s monthly sitting of the St Ann Municipal Corporation, the St Ann Health Department served notice that it has no problem throwing the book at people who allow mosquitoes to breed on their premises despite repeated warnings to address the health threat.
Meanwhile, the health ministry said members of the public are encouraged to search their surroundings at home and work at least once per week to ensure there are no Aedes aegypti breeding sites. This, the ministry added, is the best strategy to mitigate against a possible outbreak of dengue later in the year.
The public is also being encouraged to take protective action to reduce their contact with mosquitoes.
There are no confirmed cases of dengue in Jamaica thus far for 2023.
*Stop Aedes aegypti mosquito breeding by looking for anything water can settle in and cover it/ keep it dry/ clean it regularly/ fill it with soil or sand/ punch holes in it/ recycle it/dispose of it.
*Avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
*Use insect repellent containing DEET, IR3535 or Picaridin.
*Use mosquito nets.
*Use mosquito destroyer.
*Put screens on windows and doors.
*Take community action regarding prevention.