Wednesday, 13 September 2023 14:24

Jamaica under heightened risk of dengue outbreak - Tufton

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The Health and Wellness Ministry is advising that dengue cases are increasing rapidly across the country, with 316 suspected, presumed and confirmed cases being reported as of Monday. 

Of that figure, 38 of them have been identified as Dengue Type 2 and one was identified as Dengue Type 4.

"The Type 2 strain, which is the dominant strain among the positive cases identified, has not predominated in the population since 2010," said Portfolio Minister, Dr Christopher Tufton, at a press conference at the ministry's office on Wednesday morning.

"The significance of this is that it heightens the risk of a possible outbreak," he declared.

Tufton revealed that the 316 suspected, presumed and confirmed mosquito-borne diseases reported up to September 11 represent a massive increase when compared to the 65 cases reported for the similar period last year.

"For us, it represents a concern - clearly not panic, but a concern - because it is almost five times or a five-fold increase when compared to the corresponding period in 2022, where 65 cases were reported," Tufton said.

Tufton pointed out that "all parishes have had cases of dengue reported".

However, confirmed cases have been detected in Kingston and St Andrew, St Thomas, St Catherine, Westmoreland, Portland and St Ann.

"When you look from the population perspective, the parishes... (of) St Thomas, Kingston and St Andrew, and St Catherine have the highest dengue activities at this particular time," he explained. 

Meanwhile, Tufton suggested that the younger population has a higher risk of contracting dengue fever.

"It is important to highlight that of the 39 confirmed cases of dengue, a total of 20 belong in the five to 14-year-old age group, and so, the younger population, as stated, it is playing out (there) based on the particular strain, which hasn't been around in a major way since 2010.

"So part of the call from the Ministry of Health and Wellness is to encourage parents to treat children who have a fever with paracetamol, and to avoid aspirin and aspirin-like medication," Tufton advised.

He said while the ministry has mobilised some 500 temporary vector control workers to inspect homes and destroy mosquito breeding sites, citizens have a duty to eradicate such sites.