Dengue Outbreak over for Jamaica

Continued vigilance encouraged

The Chief Medical Officer of Jamaica, Dr. Jacquiline Bisasor McKenzie has declared that the island’s dengue outbreak is now over. This comes as the data from the Ministry’s National Epidemiology Unit showed that for the last four consecutive months of 2020, the number of dengue cases reported was below the epidemic threshold. March saw 37 dengue cases, two in April, eight in May and two in June.

The Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr. the Hon. Christopher Tufton, made this revelation during  his sectoral presentation recently. At the same time, he cautioned members of the public to remain vigilant against this disease, which is in country all year round.

“It is necessary, that persons continue to maintain the vigilance in the practice of the measures to reduce the mosquito population, including searching their surroundings weekly for breeding sites and destroying them; covering water-storage containers; and punching holes in cans and bottles before discarding them”, Dr. Tufton said.

The Minister also used the opportunity to thank the Vector Control Team and external partners, who played a role in getting Jamaica to this stage. “I want to take the opportunity to thank the Vector Control Unit and the entire public health infrastructure for its focused attention to prevent, control and treat dengue,” he said.

Since late 2018, the Ministry has put several measures in place to minimise the impact of vector-borne diseases and dengue in particular.  These measures included:  a massive communication and behaviour change campaign that sought to reinforce the principle of personal responsibility for health; employment more than 1,000 vector control workers; increasing the number of dedicated vector control vehicles by some 71%, up from 25 to 85 at a cost of more than $289 million; and collaboration with the municipal corporations and the National Solid Waste Management Authority for the removal of bulky waste that harbour and provide a safe haven for the dreaded Aedes aegypti.

Even as the annual anticipated rainy season and even in drought, where water storage of water increases, the Ministry will continue its activation of its mosquito-control activities, including a public education campaign, home inspections and the destruction of breeding sites, and fogging.

Members of the public are encouraged to play their part to control mosquito-borne diseases by keeping surroundings free of debris; destroying or treating potential mosquito-breeding sites; wearing protective clothing; using a DEET-containing mosquito repellant and, as much as possible, staying indoors at dusk with windows and doors closed.

Persons may call the Ministry of Health & Wellness at 888-ONE-LOVE (663-5683) with any reports or concerns.