The Government will shortly roll out an integrated vector control programme to prevent the Zika virus from reaching the shores of Jamaica, and to step up a public education campaign on the disease.
The virus, which has caused a recent health scare in the South American country of Brazil, is spread by the bite of an infected Aedes Aegypti mosquito. Its symptoms include severe fever, joint and muscle pains, headaches, rashes and conjunctivitis. These symptoms usually appear within three to 12 days following a bite.
“We are going to come very shortly with an integrated clean-up programme, (including) drain cleaning, but the citizens of the country must also take responsibility for their health, even as Government must lead the process,” emphasised Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, in an interview with JIS News.
The Minister said already, his Ministry has started a public education campaign encouraging persons on ways to protect themselves if the virus should come to Jamaica, but stressed that having surroundings where people gather remain clean, is key to preventing all mosquito borne diseases.
“It is the same Aedes Aegypti mosquito that is responsible for that Zika virus, and unless we clean up around our homes, place of worship, and workplaces, the country will be vulnerable to the disease,” Dr. Ferguson pointed out.
The Minister informed that he met recently with the Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Carissa Etienne, and Jamaica will be getting support from that group with its vector control programme.
He said in the past PAHO has helped Jamaica in other health emergency drives, and in this they will be giving technical support.
“I had the commitment of getting additional support with our vector control programme, and more so, the integrated programme, for the control of mosquitoes,” the Minister noted.
In the meantime, Dr. Ferguson wants persons to be vigilant by destroying mosquito breeding sites by filling old tyres with dirt or getting rid of them and any other container in which water can settle.
He is also appealing to persons to punch holes in tins before disposing of them; changing water in vases and cleaning them regularly to destroy mosquito eggs; and covering large drums, barrels and tanks holding water.
By Garfield L. Angus
Photo by: JIS Photographer