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Jamaica Health Ministry Steps Up Zika Surveillance

Jamaica's Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, is appealing to parents to ensure that their children are vaccinated against measles, especially because of the recent increase in cases in the United States and across the region.

Jamaica Health Ministry Steps Up Zika Surveillance

Photo above: Jamaica Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton. Photo credit: JLP.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Mar. 20, (CMC) – With an increase in the number of confirmed cases of the Zika virus, the Ministry of Health is conducting vector control and fever surveillance activities in the areas in which three new cases of the virus have been detected.

The areas are Greater Portmore and Christian Meadows in the central parish of St. Catherine, and Lyssons in the eastern parish of St. Thomas.

Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton, on Friday said, a public health team is undertaking fever monitoring and contact investigation in the affected communities, as well as public education.

This is similar to activities carried out when the first Zika case was identified, earlier this year, in Portmore, St. Catherine, which saw the public health officers visiting approximately 4,000 homes.

“We have also commenced a fogging blitz in the affected communities. This means that fogging will take place in the communities for three consecutive nights per week, for three weeks, to eradicate adult Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which spread the Zika, dengue and chikungunya viruses,” Tufton said.

He further noted, that the Ministry will continue to actively investigate, to detect any additional cases that might be present in the communities or other areas of the country.

In addition, the Ministry will be ramping up its national clean-up program, ‘Operation: Mosquito Search and Destroy,’ which is aimed at destroying mosquito breeding sites.

According to Tufton, the Ministry’s National Emergency Operations Centre will continue to coordinate the national Zika response.

“The island-wide enhanced surveillance system is in place to monitor all fever and rash cases, neurological syndromes and congenital malformations and any other presentations consistent with Zika,” he pointed out.

Two of the new Zika cases were confirmed by tests carried out at the recently upgraded University Hospital of the West Indies’ (UHWI) Virology Lab.

The other was from a sample that was sent to the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad and Tobago.

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