KINGSTON, Jamaica, December 15, 2018 (CMC) – Health authorities have dismissed suggestions of an outbreak of dengue fever in Jamaica, and urged people to destroy breeding grounds for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the disease.
“The first line of defence is to control, or attempt to control, your own environment, as it relates to (mosquito) breeding sites,” said Health Minister, Dr. Christopher Tufton.
He said that the vector-control workers, who have been visiting homes, have too often found mosquito breeding sites in drums, tanks, vases, used tyres, cans, and other vessels.
National Epidemiologist, Dr. Karen Webster Kerr, said there have been 570 suspected cases of dengue so far this year, compared to 177 cases for 2017.
“Based on the information we have now, we are having a more active season. However, it is not at outbreak levels at this time, but we continue to monitor the levels of dengue,” she said.
Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie, noted that while there has been an increase in the number of dengue and influenza cases, there is no need for alarm, noting that the majority of cases are mild.
She advised, however, that persons should immediately seek medical attention if they develop complications, such as bleeding, which could be a sign of dengue hemorrhagic fever.
“So for dengue, usually, you get fever, joint pain, muscle pains and that can be treated at home. However, if you start to develop complications, such as you discover that you are coughing up blood, or you are not tolerating fluids, you are becoming sicker, not getting better, then you must go to your health practitioner, or probably to the hospital,” the Chief Medical Officer said.
Dr. Bisasor-McKenzie said that vulnerable persons, such as the very young and the elderly, are more prone to develop complications, so vigilance must be exercised.
“There are a range of complications that can occur, but it tends to occur when you almost feel as if you’re running the course now, and you are about to get better. So persons just have to be aware that these conditions can occur, and it is better to be safe and to visit your health practitioner, than to stay at home if you have a condition that is worsening,” she added.
She said that people should use paracetamol to treat dengue symptoms, instead of non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, as this worsens bleeding problems.
There have been 70 suspected cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever for this year, compared to 38 last year. In addition, there have been six suspected dengue-related deaths for the two years.