Month: November 2015

Ministry of Health Cautions Jamaicans as Zika Virus Infection is Possibly Linked to Birth Defects

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse says given that the zika virus has entered the Caribbean Region, Jamaicans should be stepping up their mosquito prevention activities for its possible introduction into the country.

She says the Ministry of Health has also taken note of reports of a possible link of zika virus infection to birth defects. The Pan American Health Authority is investigating the matter. After the zika virus outbreak several babies in Brazil were found to have Microcephaly which results in an abnormal growth of the brain and stunting of the growth of the head of the foetus arising from infection in the first months of pregnancy.

“Pregnant women are among the high risk group for severe symptoms of zika virus. Children under five years old, the elderly and persons with chronic non-communicable diseases are also at greater risk. We therefore appeal to all Jamaicans but especially those who fall in this group to take precautions and prevent being bitten by mosquitoes as best as possible.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Hon. Horace Dalley says it is the task of every citizen to get rid of the mosquito which spreads the zika virus. “The Aedes aegypti is the mosquito that spreads the zika virus as well as dengue and chikungunya and so you should check your homes for it; hunt it and kill it,” Minister Dalley said.

Persons can 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.

The zika virus has not been detected in Jamaica to date. However the Ministry of Health continues its preparedness activities for the possible introduction of the zika virus.

The Ministry will be hosting a training session on the zika virus this Thursday, December 3, 2015 for senior health workers across the island. This will be followed by training of health workers and those in other sectors islandwide.