Getting dengue along with a pre-existing disease could result in complications, St James SMO warns

Observer writer

Thursday, January 17, 2019

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NORWOOD, St James — Senior Medical Officer of Health (SMO) for St James, Dr Marcia Johnson Campbell, has cautioned that contracting dengue along with a pre-existing non-communicable disease could result in serious health complications.

“Persons who have chronic diseases would be at greater risk if it is that they get dengue. This would now be a comorbidity, and they could have more serious complications because of the dengue infection,” Dr Johnson Campbell stated.

The senior medical officer was fielding questions from reporters during a recent site visit of the Norwood community in St James led by Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton and health officials.

Dr Johnson Campbell noted that while St James doesn't have many people sick with infections resulting from communicable diseases, the parish currently has high levels of chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Dengue fever, which is spread by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, is an infectious disease which can cause high fevers, headaches, rashes, and pain throughout the body. The disease is not usually fatal and most people who contract it normally start feeling better after several days and recover completely in a few weeks.

The recent Norwood visit followed a strategy meeting earlier that day with a public health team, including vector control workers, Dr Johnson Campbell and the chief public health inspector for St James, Lennox Wallace.

Dr Tufton's visit to the parish formed part of his planned visits to each parish over the next few days, particularly those that are affected by dengue, to see what assistance is needed, and how additional help can be provided.

Three communities in the parish — Maroon Town, Cambridge, and downtown Montego Bay — have been considered as “high risk communities for the contraction of dengue.”

The parish of St James last year saw a 100 per cent increase in the number of presumed, suspected or confirmed cases when compared with 2017, moving from 10 in 2017 to 20 at the end of 2018.

And since the start of this year, St James has seen a spike in the number of notified cases. There are 14 such notified cases, however, no case of dengue has been confirmed.

Currently, the parish has a team of 12 permanent vector control workers and 21 temporary workers. However, 50 additional temporary workers are to be provided soon.

The health department has two vehicles at its disposal to undertake its vector control work, while an additional four vehicles are to be obtained.

Additionally, the department has six fogging machines, and is expected to get another five from the ministry of health in coming days.

“Last year, I think the team did well, and with the additional support that we are giving them, we expect that they will do better in terms of managing the situation, so I want to commend them,” said Dr Tufton.

“We are keen to ensure that the team has the support and logistics. We discussed that they should create a presence on the ground and do the inspection, do the treatment and the community engagement on the ground, to focus on prevention as supposed to cure.”

Meanwhile, Wallace has disclosed that efforts are being made to have problematic drains in the parish cleaned.

“We would have met with the management of the National Works Agency and we have listed all the drains that we believe are problem drains. The work has started. The St James Municipal Corporation has also committed to clean drains that are under their control,” said the chief public health inspector.

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