Over 500 dengue notifications in St Catherine in January
The story below has been updated from an earlier version which incorrectly stated that more than 520 notifications for dengue were recorded in Portmore. We regret the error.
Senior Medical Officer (SMO) for St Catherine, Dr Prosper Chen, has revealed that the parish recorded more than 520 notifications for dengue in the month of January alone, the most for any single parish across the country.
Chen made the revelation on Thursday as she addressed a stakeholders' meeting called by Portmore Mayor, Leon Thomas, to outline the steps being taken and the challenges being faced by the Portmore Municipal Corporation (PMC) in tackling the ongoing national dengue problem.
The meeting, which was well attended, had several school principals, presidents of citizens’ associations and councillors from the various divisions in the audience. Also present was the Member of Parliament (MP) for South East St Catherine, Colin Fagan.
Chen explained that the more than 520 notifications in January refer to suspected, presumed and confirmed cases. She said some communities have been more significantly affected than others.
“The notifications that we receive come predominantly from Waterford, Braeton (particularly phase seven), Portsmouth, Greater Portmore, Gregory Park and Christian Pen.
“This is not new; it tends to typify the outbreaks in the parish and in this health zone,” the SMO explained.
Chen said the situation is compounded by the fact that the dengue outbreak has occurred in the midst of the flu season, and is ongoing at a time when the country normally sees an increase in cases of gastroenteritis.
She reiterated that children are disproportionately affected, with up to 70 per cent of the notifications being children.
“That is why this outbreak is very serious,” she said.
According to Chen, dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases, such as Chikungunya and the Zika virus, are now “formidable public health risks that the world is facing…”.
And the SMO noted that while there are four types of dengue, the country is presently being affected by dengue type three. She said an individual can get dengue up to four times, with each infection being progressively more severe.
In the meantime, she said the hope is that the outbreak will peak by mid-February, after which the numbers should begin to go down.
She said Portmore was being fogged about three times per week, and the health department has deployed four to five teams of vector control personnel in the municipality on a daily basis as efforts are intensified to rid communities of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito which spreads the disease.