Ministry on alert to prevent possible dengue outbreak
Friday, February 15, 2002
THE Ministry of Health has stepped up its quarantine programme at the Norman Manley International Airport in the wake of the dengue outbreak in Cuba and Barbados.
Medical Officer of Health, Dr Herbert Elliot, told the Jamaica Information Service that although the health department's mosquito eradication programme was ongoing, its quarantine department was put on full alert to prevent a potential spread of dengue from Cuba and Barbados.
"With our planes coming in each day we are very vigilant," he said, adding that a quarantine group was on location at the airport each day to monitor the situation.
He added that the group was engaged in interviewing persons entering the island from both Cuba and Barbados; the spraying of aircraft after landing and conducting larvicidal work.
At the same time Dr Elliot has asked householders to take precautionary measures such as removing containers found around the home which could collect rain water and dispose of useless tyres in garbage trucks or store them where they could not collect water.
He said, too, that plastic containers, bottles, paint tins, tin cans, coconut shells and useless motorcar parts should be placed in the garbage truck. Holes should also be punched in cans before disposing of them. Householders should also empty and scrub flower vases twice weekly; keep house plants in damp soil instead of water. Avoid over-watering plants and so keep saucers of potted plants dry, said a JIS report.
Dr Elliot also reported that the health department had been doing larvicidal work, that is, the oiling of breeding areas and fogging of the adult mosquitoes around the Corporate Area. This is also combined with the ministry's surveillance programme, where 200 sites in six zones are monitored for the Aedes Aegypti mosquito.
Dengue fever is a serious viral disease transmitted from person to person by the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, a domesticated mosquito breeding in and around homes, offices, churches, hotels and hospitals, or any water catching or storage containers in shaded or sunny places.
Outbreaks of dengue occur primarily throughout tropical regions where the Aedes Aegypti mosquito exists. But while spraying temporarily reduces the adult mosquito population, it will increase again after three to five days unless the breeding sites are destroyed.