J’cans warned to be on guard for wa­ter-borne dis­eases

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Christo­pher Serju Gleaner Writer christo­pher.serju@glean­erjm.com

HEALTH MIN­IS­TER Dr Christo­pher Tufton is ap­peal­ing to Ja­maicans to pro­tect them­selves from the threat of wa­ter­borne dis­eases, which are a very real risk at this time, in light of the flood­ing caused by Hur­ri­cane Matthew.

“Nor­mally af­ter heavy rain and flood­ing, you get a spike in wa­ter­borne dis­eases such as gas­troen­teri­tis, and that is a con­se­quence of con­tam­i­nants when peo­ple drink or oth­er­wise in­ter­act with the wa­ter. So it’s ad­vis­able that per­sons boil wa­ter be­fore drink­ing and avoid, as best as pos­si­ble, play­ing in pud­dles of wa­ter, es­pe­cially chil­dren, be­cause that could lead to other ail­ments,” he warned yes­ter­day.

Tufton told The Gleaner that given the in­clement weather, the mat­ter of hy­giene must ex­tend to ad­dress­ing the po­ten­tial health risks from the en­vi­ron­ment, with the elim­i­na­tion of mosquito breed­ing sites a pri­or­ity. He said that in ad­di­tion to check­ing around the home, as well as drums and other ves­sels used to store wa­ter for do­mes­tic pur­poses, the pub­lic needs to also fo­cus on other forms of catch­ment. “Th­ese may be old tyres, cans, and other dis­carded house­hold items be­cause with heavy rains, you could get a spike in mosquito breed­ing sites, and, of course, we’re strug­gling with Zika, dengue, and other vec­tor-borne dis­eases. So we cer­tainly ad­vise per­sons to look around their im­me­di­ate en­vi­rons to de­ter­mine where sites ex­ist and de­stroy th­ese as quickly as they are dis­cov­ered,” the health min­is­ter ap­pealed.

FLU SEA­SON AP­PROACH­ING

De­spite th­ese pre­cau­tions, Ja­maicans should pre­pare to deal with an in­crease in the mosquito pop­u­la­tion by, among other things, us­ing re­pel­lent with DEET.

The min­is­ter also pointed out that the flu sea­son was ap­proach­ing, so per­sons need to be es­pe­cially vig­i­lant. He said some new strate­gies to min­imise the fall­out from the flu sea­son would be in­cor­po­rated into the over­all plan to fight the Zika virus, among other dis­eases.

“That’s go­ing to be ac­com­pa­nied by a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties to pro­mote bet­ter hy­giene, and so on. So what we are try­ing to do is in­ter­twine the ad­di­tional mes­sages that need to get out there as a re­sult of the rain with the ex­ist­ing pro­grammes that we are pur­su­ing linked to cur­rent and cycli­cal risks that we face as a coun­try.”

TUFTON

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