JAMAICA- confirms dengue deaths as the island announces epidemic

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Jamaica has confirmed two dengue-related deaths for the period January to December last year as it announced that the virus had surpassed the epidemic threshold for December.

Health Minister Dr. Christopher Tufton told a news conference that the latest figures from the Epidemiological Unit indicate that 123 dengue case reports including suspected, presumed and confirmed cases were received for the month of December.

“This exceeded the outbreak threshold of 96 cases for December, and is the first month for 2018 in which the number of cases exceeded the outbreak threshold,” he said.

“This has been a more active season than last year, and we have been observing and monitoring the numbers and increases with each month, but by the clinical standards could only claim an epidemic once the threshold is surpassed,” Tufton said, adding that the Ministry of Health is allocating an additional J$250 million (One Jamaica dollar=US$0.008 cents) to support enhanced measures to contain the spread of the dengue fever virus.

Tufton told reporters that there were seven suspected and two confirmed cases of dengue-related deaths for the period January to December 2018 and that a total of 830 reported cases have been classified as suspected, presumed or confirmed as at January 3 this year.

The number of confirmed cases stands at 23 for the period January 1, 2018 to January 3, with the capital, Kingston and St. Andrew, St. Catherine, Westmoreland, and St. Ann having the highest reported cases of the dengue virus.

Tufton said the Ministry has already put a number of measures in place in anticipation of an outbreak of the virus and these include increased fogging in 300 communities with clusters of dengue cases.

The Enhanced Vector Control (EVC) programme has been extended to March 2019 to include the employment of an additional 500 temporary workers, who will join the effort to identify and eliminate mosquito breeding sites.

Dengue fever is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with a dengue virus. Symptoms, which usually begin four to six days after infection and last for up to 10 days, may include sudden, high fever, severe headaches, pain behind the eyes, severe joint and muscle pain, fatigue and nausea

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