Malaria tally rises in Jamaica

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Five more cases of malaria have been confirmed by the Jamaica Ministry of Health, pushing the number of infected people to 13.

Among the infected are five children who have been hospitalised, reports the Jamaica Gleaner.

The new cases were detected in persons from Kingston 12, 13 and 14 and came two days after the Health Ministry issued a malaria alert.

The affected communities include Delacree Park, Denham Town, Trench Town and Tivoli Gardens.

Two cases have been found in Sydenham Villas, St. Catherine.

Director of Emergency, Disaster Management and Special Services in the Ministry of Health Dr. Marion Bullock-DuCasse, said the ministry will be intensifying its interventions to control the infectious disease.

“We will continue our intensive community intervention, meaning that the health team will be out in the areas where we have identified malaria. We will be doing housetohouse surveys within a onemile radius,” Dr. BullockDuCasse says.

She adds that the ministry will be taking blood samples from people who have indicated that they have been suffering symptoms of the disease.

Symptoms of malaria include headaches, fever, joint and muscle pains and tiredness. The disease is spread by the female Anopheles mosquito.

Noting that the disease is not being classified as an epidemic at this time, Dr. Bullock-DuCasse sought to assure the public that an aggressive approach was being taken to prevent further infections.

“Jamaica will remain free of endemic malaria,” she said, adding that patients have been responding well to treatments.

However, the ministry is asking the public to be cautious and is recommending that all mass gatherings such as Passa Passa, in the affected communities, be suspended this week.

It is still not clear if the parasite was imported, but on Saturday, Health Minister, Horace Dalley told The Gleaner that there were strong indications it could have been imported from Haiti or Latin American countries.

He said there are Haitians living in Kingston 13 and 14 communities where the disease has been detected.

Meanwhile, all health centres will be open from 8:30 a.m to 5:00 p.m. today to deal with any further reports.

Safety tips

• Jamaicans should take the malaria alert seriously.

• Cooperate with all health investigators and foggers.

• Remove all items in and around the home that can breed mosquitoes.

• Stay indoors after dusk, where possible and wear long-sleeved clothing and keep windows closed.

• Report to health centres or to your private doctor, if you develop a fever, flu-like symptoms, chills, headaches, muscle aches or tiredness.

• If you travel outside Jamaica to an area that is said to be malarious, obtain medication one week before travel. The medication must be taken during your stay and up to six weeks after you return.