Hunt for mosquito breeding sites
Hanover health-care workers go into field Monday as dengue cases rise
A possible mosquito-breeding site behind a shopping plaza in Lucea. (Photo: Anthony Lewis)

LUCEA, Hanover — With 57 suspected cases of dengue in the parish and signs of potential breeding sites at 72 per cent above desired levels, workers from the Hanover Health Department will be out in the field next Monday to try and get the situation under control.

"Workers are expected to search, identify, and destroy or treat mosquito breeding sites. Workers will be deployed in high-risk areas across the parish based on the high indices and potential breeding sites," Medical Officer of Health for the Hanover Health Department Dr Kaushal Singh told the Jamaica Observer.

The team that will be dispatched includes nine permanent workers plus 30 temporary ones who are expected to resume duties on September 25.

This is the time of the year that the threat of dengue increases across Jamaica, and several other parishes are also seeing a spike in numbers. Hanover's almost 60 suspected cases occurred between January and August. Four were recorded during July and August, according to a written report presented to the Hanover Municipal Corporation this month.

The rising Aedes index level has also been a source of concern. It is an indicator of the percentage of premises in an area that test positive for larval breeding of the mosquito which transmits dengue.

"The Aedes index for July and August was 7.4 per cent and 8.6 per cent, respectively. Our target is to keep it as low as possible — around five per cent — so as to maintain a minimal transmission risk," Dr Singh told the Jamaica Observer on Monday.

The health ministry has long urged people to get rid of objects and reduce situations that can create opportunities for mosquito breeding, and Dr Singh stressed the need for the public's cooperation in trying to minimise transmission. These efforts, he said, go hand in hand with steps taken by health-care workers who use fogging to kill adult mosquitoes, in addition to destroying breeding sites.

There is no specific treatment for dengue/severe dengue, but early detection along with access to proper medical care greatly lowers fatality rates of severe cases.

Most people with the disease have mild or no symptoms and will get better in one to two days. In rare cases, dengue can be severe and lead to death.

If symptoms occur, this is usually within four to 10 days after infection and they last for two to seven days. Symptoms may include high fever (40°C/104°F), severe headache, pain behind the eyes, muscle and joint pains, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands and rash.

According to Dr Singh, individuals who are infected for the second time are at greater risk of severe dengue. At this stage of the illness, he said, hydration is very important.

In its written report, the Hanover Health Department noted that symptoms of severe dengue often come after the fever has gone away. Symptoms include severe abdominal pain, persistent vomiting, rapid breathing, bleeding gums or nose, fatigue, restlessness, blood in vomit or stool, being very thirsty, pale and cold skin and feeling weak.

"People with these severe symptoms should get care right away. After recovery, people who have had dengue may feel tired for several weeks," the report said.

BY ANTHONY LEWIS Observer writer

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