Jamaica implements vector control programme as Zika virus gets closer
KINGSTON, Jamaica – With the mosquito-borne Zika Virus closer to home, Jamaica has now implemented a five-point integrated vector management control programme that includes prosecuting people who fail to comply with its provisions.
Medical Entomologist in the Ministry of Health Sherine Huntley-Jones made the announcement yesterday, just a few days after a 12-year-old girl in the Dominican Republic was the first person in the Caribbean to be diagnosed with virus, also known as ZIKV.
She said the programme is aimed at controlling the breeding of the Aedes aegypti mosquito which transmits the disease. The five pillars of the programme are: social mobilization and community participation; inter-sectoral collaboration; capacity building; implementation of vector-control measures; and utilizing legislative measures where necessary.
Social mobilization and community participation will be the main strategy.
“Given that the vector is domesticated, urban, usually found in and around places where persons dwell, play and do business, the first order of business has to be persons taking responsibility in controlling the vector, which is right there in the environment. We must mobilize the population into taking action,” Huntley-Jones said.
Inter-sectoral collaboration will involve partnering with key stakeholders such as the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), the National Works Agency (NWA) and parish councils, in controlling the vector.
Huntley-Jones said the ministry is also strengthening the capacity of its staff and of its partner agencies so that they all have an understanding of the Zika virus.
As for the vector control measures, Huntley-Jones said fogging have intensified across the island, focusing mainly on high-risk communities based on vector and population density, and environmental factors.
“The larvicidal activity to deal with the mosquito at its breeding sites is the main strategy,” she explained.
The legislative aspect will deal with violators of the programme.
Huntley-Jones said the legal framework that supports the implementation of the vector control programme exists in the Public Health Act of 1985 and allows the Ministry to serve notice on people who are in breach of the provisions and even prosecute them if necessary.
The Zika virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits Chikungunya and dengue.
It is similar to dengue with symptoms that include fever, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, headache, weakness, rash and swelling of the lower limbs.
After the bite of an infected mosquito, symptoms usually appear following the incubation period of three to 12 days. They last for four to seven days.