According to the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), the current outbreak of dengue in Jamaica has caused concern across the region.
The Jamaican Ministry of Health has reported that December 2018 was the first month in which reported cases of dengue surpassed the epidemic threshold of 96, reaching 123 cases this January.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne illness that affects infants, young children and adults. Symptoms typically begin four to 10 days after infection, and include a high fever, headache, muscle and joint pains and a skin rash. Serious cases may result in death if untreated.
Doctor James Hospedales, executive director at CARPHA, has advised Caribbean countries to implement enhanced measures to reduce mosquito breeding and prevent the spread of the disease.
“We all need to clean up our surroundings. The two most important things to control mosquito populations in our Caribbean countries are to manage water storage drums and tanks, and properly dispose of used vehicle tyres [where mosquitoes also live if the tyres contain stagnant water] to prevent mosquitoes breeding.”
Addressing delegates at the Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Montego Bay yesterday, Matt Cooper, chief marketing officer at the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, commented: “We have been monitoring the situation and are releasing online training in conjunction with CARPHA to educate people about the illness.”
Elizabeth Fox, regional director – UK, at the Jamaican Tourist Board, said: “The Ministry of Health has measures in place to tackle dengue, including an extensive public education programme regarding mosquito breeding sites and guidelines on dengue’s symptoms. As of yet, we haven’t had any cases of dengue affecting tourists.”