Wed | Jun 3, 2020

Remain vigilant in the fight against dengue – Huntley Jones

Published:Saturday | March 28, 2020 | 12:17 AM

Medical entomologist and national programme manager, vector control, in the Ministry of Health and Wellness Sherine Huntley Jones is encouraging householders to remain vigilant in the fight against dengue, even as the country continues to deal with the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.

Huntley Jones explained that although much of the focus is currently on preventing the spread of COVID-19, it is important for persons to remember that the country is still dealing with a dengue outbreak.

“We are still encouraging persons to continue the search-and-destroy activities that they would have been engaged in at the height of the dengue outbreak, such as continuing to look for the breeding sites of the Aedes aegypti mosquito,” she said.

The medical entomologist pointed out that the time is opportune for persons who have hunkered down at home to deal with COVID-19 to search for the breeding sites in and around the home.

She noted that the vector-control team was persuading persons to not ignore breeding sites at this time as this would facilitate a surge in the mosquito population, which could possibly cause another dengue outbreak further in the year.

Huntley Jones is also reminding persons that there are contributing factors that will lead to an increase in the mosquito population. The first, she said, is rainfall, which will give rise to breeding sites through the storage of water.

More important, she added, temperatures are increasing, and this, coupled with rainfall, will also have a significant impact.

“We are now entering the warmer months, and we are going to see a significant rise in the vector population and, with that rise, an increase in the risk of transmission,” she warned. Huntley Jones pointed out that Zika and chikungunya are still endemic, and as such, the population will be at increased risk for all three diseases.

LEARN FROM EXPERIENCE

She said that it is imperative that the country learn from the previous year’s experience, when there was a dip in dengue cases between March and May, which was followed by an upsurge between June and September.

Huntley Jones said that the ministry will be continuing the employment of more than 1,000 temporary vector-control workers in the mosquito search-and-destroy effort and that they will be engaged for at least the next six months. Scheduled fogging activities will also continue.

“The ministry has not declared the outbreak over, so we are continuing full force with the dengue response, and we invite the public to continue to do the same thing,” she appealed.