Jamaica Government Denies Dengue Outbreak

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday December 14, 2018 – Although the number of dengue cases so far this year has more than tripled that last year, the government is insisting there is no dengue outbreak in the country.

National Epidemiologist Dr Karen Webster Kerr said there have been 570 suspected cases of dengue thus far, compared to 177 cases for 2017.

“Based on the information we have now, we are having a more active season. However, it is not at outbreak level at this time, but we continue to monitor the levels of dengue,” she said.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Jacqueline Bisasor-McKenzie insisted that while there has been an increase in the number of dengue and influenza cases, there is no need for alarm, noting that the majority of cases are mild.

She noted, however, that persons should immediately seek medical attention if they develop complications such as bleeding, which could be a sign of dengue hemorrhagic fever.

“So for dengue, usually, you get fever, joint pain, muscle pains and that can be treated at home. However, if you start to develop complications, such as you discover that you are coughing up blood, or you are not tolerating fluids, you are becoming sicker, not getting better, then you must go to your health practitioner or probably to the hospital,” Dr Bisasor-McKenzie advised.

She said that vulnerable persons, such as the very young and the elderly, are more prone to develop complications, so vigilance must be exercised.

“There are a range of complications that can occur, but it tends to occur when you almost feel as if you’re running the course now and you are about to get better. So persons just have to be aware that these conditions can occur and it is better to be safe and to visit your health practitioner than to stay at home if you have a condition that is worsening,” she added.

The Chief Medical Officer further advised persons to use paracetamol to treat dengue symptoms instead of non-steroid, anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, as this worsens bleeding problems.

There have been 70 suspected cases of dengue hemorrhagic fever for this year, compared to 38 last year.

In addition, there have been six suspected dengue-related deaths for the two years.

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