November 9, 2023 -CNW -Dengue cases in Jamaica have now surpassed 3,000, with more confirmed cases than the last two major outbreaks, according to health authorities.
During a press conference on Thursday, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Christopher Tufton noted that as of November 6, there were 3,147 suspected, presumed, and confirmed cases of dengue on the island. Some 870 of that number are confirmed cases.
There have been a total of nine dengue deaths since the outbreak was first declared in September. However, the minister noted that no deaths have been recorded in the past two weeks. Within the last week, over 70 persons have been hospitalized with dengue symptoms.
Tufton said that dengue types 2, 3, and 4 have been found in the population but it is type 2 that remains the dominant strain. All the parishes continue to observe increases in dengue cases in 2023, compared to 2022.
Jamaica’s chief medical officer (CMO), Dr Jacquiline Bisasor-McKenzie noted that this current outbreak has the highest number of confirmed cases, in comparison to previous major outbreaks in 2019 (179 confirmed cases) and 2016 (190 confirmed cases).
She said that this is a result of the island’s increased capacity to test for dengue. During previous outbreaks, the island had to depend on testing and getting results from the Caribbean Public Health Agency in Trinidad.
Dengue mitigation measures continue
Since the outbreak was declared in September, a total of 461 communities have been fogged to date, with an additional 115 high-risk communities receiving fogging, according to Minister Tufton. High-risk communities are determined by where the index is highest, he said.
Morning and evening fogging sessions are just one part of the ministry’s dengue outbreak mitigation plan, which includes a public education campaign on dengue, clinical management, destroying mosquito breeding sites (primarily located in the homes of residents), drain cleaning, and waste removal.
The Ministry of Wellness has asked residents to play their part in ensuring that the cases are minimized by monitoring water storage containers for mosquito breeding; keeping surroundings free of debris; destroying or treating potential mosquito breeding sites; wearing protective clothing, and using a DEET-containing mosquito repellent.
The minister has also urged residents not to self-treat themselves if they suspect that they have dengue, but to visit a health facility and seek medical advice.