Health Ministry urges vigilance as Zika virus confirmed in C’bean

News post November 13, 2015

KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Ministry of Health is urging people to be more vigilant and take their responsibility as citizens seriously by cleaning up their environment and destroying mosquito breeding sites.

The ministry’s plea follows the announcement by the Caribbean Public Health Agency on Thursday that the Zika virus has been detected in the Caribbean.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Marion Bullock DuCasse pointed out in a Ministry of Health release that the Zika virus is spread in the same way as chikungunya and dengue and via the same mosquito – the Aedes aegypti.

She said the Ministry of Health continues its preparedness activities for the possible introduction of the Zika virus in Jamaica. The virus has previously been reported in Brazil, Colombia and suspected in the Dominican Republic. The Pan American Health Organization has indicated that it has been confirmed in Suriname.

The Regional Health Authorities increased the frequency of fogging in several areas and will continue to pay close attention to high risk communities, the release said.

“I want to point out however that fogging is a temporary solution and cannot by itself solve the problem of mosquito breeding,” Bullock DuCasse emphasised.

She is calling on members of the public to destroy mosquito breeding sites by looking for anything around the home, school, churches and business places that may collect water and either cover it, keep it dry or dispose of it. Repair leaking pipes and outdoor faucets, cut the grass short and trim shrubbery, clear roof gutters and eaves to prevent water from settling and fill in and drain any low places in the yard such as areas where there are usually puddles when it rains.

“Persons should also protect themselves from mosquito bites by using insect repellent containing DEET, putting mesh on windows and doors and wearing long sleeved clothing where possible,” DuCasse said.

She added that “our close working relationship with the Local Government through the parish councils continues to ensure an integrated approach to controlling the mosquito population.” The Ministry recently handed over 45-55 gallon specially designed drum covers to the Parish Councils for distribution to communities.

The Ministry of Health also said it continues to prepare the health sector for any possible introduction of Zika virus as part of the vector control response. The Zika virus has not been detected in Jamaica to date.

The symptoms of Zika virus include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea, eyeball pain, inflammation of the eye, vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain, weakness, swelling of the lower limbs and rash consisting of small bumps. Symptoms last approximately four to seven days.

Published by: The Observer

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