Jamaica's Ministry of Health is urging people to be more vigilant and to clean up their environment and destroy mosquito breeding sites, in light of the announcement by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) that the Zika virus has been detected in a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nation.
CARPHA did not identify the country but the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has indicated that five cases of the Zika virus has been confirmed in Suriname. The virus has previously been reported in Brazil, Colombia and suspected in the Dominican Republic.
It has not been confirmed in Jamaica to date but Chief Medical Officer Dr. Marion Bullock DuCasse says the Ministry of Health is preparing for any possible cases.
At the same time, she urged residents to take their responsibility as citizens seriously and ensure they don’t provide the environment for the Aedes aegypti mosquito – which spreads the Zika virus, as well as chikungunya and dengue – to thrive.
The Chief Medical Officer urged members of the public to look 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 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.
Jamaica's Regional Health Authorities increased the frequency of fogging in several areas and will continue to pay close attention to high risk communities.
“I want to point out however that fogging is a temporary solution and cannot by itself solve the problem of mosquito breeding,” Dr. Bullock DuCasse said.
“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 symptoms of Zika virus include fever, muscle and joint pain, headache, nausea, eyeball pain, inflammation of the eye, vomiting, diarrhea or abdominal pain, weakness, swelling of the lower limbs and rash consisting of small bumps. Symptoms last approximately four to seven days.