Members of the public are being urged to take precaution against the spread of mosquito borne diseases.
The call, from Director of Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services, Dr. Marion Bullock Ducasse comes as the Chikungunya Virus , Chik-V, continues to spread to some Caribbean nations. She says while the disease is not yet in Jamaica, the Health Ministry continues to put measures in place , as part of its preparedness plan.
Dr Ducasse explains, that the virus is spread by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which also spreads dengue, and so the health authorities have an advantage of being able to use a similar approach. She states that the Health Ministry has been putting measures in place for more than two years in anticipation of the possibility of Chik-V reaching Jamaica’s shores.
Dr Ducasse points out that training and sensitization of staff has started, the surveillance system continues to be strengthened to quickly detect cases, the vector control programme continues to operate and a communication strategy has been developed. Symptoms of Chikungunya Fever include high fever, headache, muscle pain, joint pain mainly in the limbs and large joints and a rash.
Although it does not often result in death, joint pains and stiffness can last for months and even years. It may become a source of chronic pain and disability resulting in the individual being unable to attend work or school. Infants and the elderly are at greater risk for more severe disease. The health ministry says there are some diseases that may increase the risk for severe disease, such as diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular disease. It adds that there is no specific treatment for Chik-V nor is there a vaccine.
Dr. Ducasse says the main method of prevention is protection from mosquito bites. The Aedes Aegypti is a day biting mosquito that will almost always be found in and around areas where people live, work and play. The parasite breeds in water that settles in the surroundings.
Persons are urged to search for and destroy mosquito breeding sites in and around their homes, workplaces and communities by getting rid of old tyres and containers in which water can settle, punching holes in tins before disposing, and covering large drums, barrels and tanks holding water.
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