First Look

Dengue fever spread concerns opposition

Jamaica Labour Party | 2012-10-12 00:00:00

Based on information from the Ministry of Health, the number of reported cases of Dengue has climbed to over 1,200. This indicates a doubling of the reported cases in less than four weeks. It has also been reported that there have been five deaths.

 This is a clear signal that the Ministry of Health has to intensify its efforts to break the back of this epidemic by killing the adult mosquitoes which are actively transmitting the disease. Whereas source reduction, by controlling the breeding sites of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito is a safe way of controlling the mosquito population, and should be practiced continuously, it cannot bring about the dramatic effect that is now necessary to put an end to this epidemic and to save lives.

 We must be aware that Dengue is raging throughout Latin America and the Caribbean with millions of cases and significant numbers of deaths in other territories.

 It has been shown over the years that Jamaicans have been exposed to the four types of the Dengue virus, a situation which increases the risk of Dengue Shock Syndrome and Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever occurring over the course of an epidemic.

 The Ministry of Health has been tardy in its response, ever since it has been apparent that we have an epidemic. In addition to the source reduction strategies, which include public education, it is urgent that we employ methods to kill the mosquitoes that are actively transmitting the disease by spraying from 7a.m. and 7p.m., when the mosquitoes are in full flight.

 Despite the health education strategies so far, people still don’t understanding what actions to take to prevent the occurrence of the fever as well as how to prevent the complications of this illness. I have had patients who feel that when they get a fever they need to work it off by physical exercise, or women who have been put on leave by doctors take the opportunity to catch up on exhausting work. The effect is that the body's immune system is weakened, making it likely for them to develop complications.

 A very important observation is that the drug Cataflam is being widely used to treat fever and pain, as people have this drug at home from a previous illness. It deserves emphasis that this drug, along with Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs must not be taken during a Dengue outbreak.

 I am hereby encouraging the Ministry of Health to intesify the spraying of mosquitoes to break the cycle of this outbreak, and against the background that fogging has been used and must continue to be used, it is necessary to undertake aerial spraying with the relevant precautions.

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